Kyle Miller scores twice as Nor'easters' home stretch begins with second straight win vs. New Jersey
The Ocean City Nor’easters came from behind to defeat the New Jersey Rangers 3-2 on Saturday night to keep their playoff hopes alive.
|33rd (NEW JERSEY)||Alex Silver (Unassisted)|
|59th (OCEAN CITY)||Kyle Miller (Unassisted)|
|67th (OCEAN CITY)||John Fletcher (Byron Carmichael)|
|74th (OCEAN CITY)||Kyle Miller (Byron Carmichael)|
|82nd (NEW JERSEY)||Samson Malijani|
In the first of five straight home matches to end the 2010 season, the Nor’easters erased a 1-0 halftime deficit with a pair of goals from Kyle Miller and another from John Fletcher to give Ocean City their second straight win over the Rangers.
With the win, Ocean City improves to 4-4-4 and puts them into fourth place in the Mid-Atlantic Division. They are now seven points shy of a playoff spot with four games to play. However, they will need some help down the stretch as the team they are chasing, next Saturday’s opponent Reading United, have two games in hand over the Nor’easters.
Ocean City head coach Neil Holloway called the match a "tale of two halves," as he found his club trailing at the half 1-0. New Jersey’s Alex Silver’s shot from distance took a deflection and beat goalkeeper Tunde Ogunbiyi for the only goal of the half in the 33rd minute.
In the second half, it was a different story as the Nor’easters rattled off three unanswered goals to take command of the game.
"After a disappointing first half, we talked about what we were doing wrong and what we were going to do to fix it," said Holloway. "They came out in the second half and really carried out the orders by playing some attractive attacking soccer, scoring three goals, and we could have had more."
|Kyle Miller connects on a diving header. Photo: Bill Pellegrino|
It began in the 59th minute when a Kevin Curran corner kick was cleared out by the New Jersey defense, only to be collected and sent back to Curran by Neal Melchionni. The Loyola (MD) defender chested the ball down, beat a defender on the right wing and fired a shot on goal. The ball was saved by goalkeeper Matt Gnall, but the ball escaped him and Kyle Miller was at the right place at the right time at the far post to tap in his first goal of the season. Miller, who scored three goals for Ocean City last year, would celebrate his first of the year with a front flip to fire up the crowd.
Ocean City would take the lead in the 67th minute when defender John Fletcher would begin the attack from the backline, and after a series of passes through the midfield, Terry Gibbs would center the ball for Byron Carmichael and he would collide with the goalkeeper. The collision with Gnall saw the ball squirt free and into the onrushing Fletcher who was following up on the play.
Fletcher’s goal, his third of the season, is the most ever by a defender in a season. The captain has five career goals which is one shy of Joe Banks’ record of six scored by a defender in a career.
Miller would add another in the 74th minute when Carmichael and Melchionni combined on the left wing. Carmichael dribbled down the left side and sent a cross in to Miller at the top of the box who smashed home his second goal of the season. Carmichael’s assist on the play, his second of the game, gives him five on the season, a new career high for the club’s leading scorer (4 goals, 5 assists, 13 points)
Samson Malijani would cut the lead to one in the 83rd minute, but the Nor’easter defense would hold on for the remaining eight minutes to secure their second win in a row over New Jersey this year and their seventh straight all-time (7-0-0).
"The team really came out with some real determination [in the second half]," said Holloway. "They showed a willingness to entertain the Ocean City crowd and they were rewarded with a hard-fought win."
Next Saturday is a must-win for the Nor’easters as they host Reading United at Carey Stadium. A loss to Reading, which has only happened once in club history, would eliminate Ocean City from playoff contention. A draw would not eliminate them, but would make a postseason berth highly unlikely. Kickoff at the Beach House is scheduled for 7 p.m. and tickets are $6 for adults, $4 for kids.