Cincinnati Saved By Okoli Late

FC Cincinnati was able to squeak out a victory against St. Louis FC 2-1 in the final minutes. The two goals were from Sean Okoli, including one from the penalty spot in the final minute. Patrick Doody was the goal scorer for St. Louis. 17,415 people were in attendance at Nippert Stadium.

The win today brings Cincinnati back to third in the table, up from sixth where they dropped after their losses to New York Red Bulls II and Charlotte Independence. This position in the table gives Cincinnati a home playoff game due to being in the top four.

Okoli had a tough first half getting a handful of chances but not being able to score in the first half. Even in the second half he wasn’t converting until finally being able to get one in the 84’ off a headed assist from Andrew Wiedeman. He converted a penalty late in extra time to seal the victory. A handball in the box by Richard Dixon off a corner set up the penalty. When asked about how he was feeling before the penalty spot he said, “I know my teammates are counting on me to step up.”

The late victory bucks the trend for Cincinnati to drop points after the 80’ having lost seven after that point this year. The last win after the 80’ was on April 24 off an Omar Cummings goal.

Coach Harkes was very pleased with the chances created all game saying, “[The first half was] the best I have seen all year.” And later when asked about all of the chances created that didn’t go in he said, “I would be more concerned if we weren’t creating chances and eventually because of our work rate and our attitudes being very positive right now those will fall for us.”

Cincinnati completely dominated the first half, with a majority of the possession and numerous close chances where they needed just that one touch to score. There were at least three balls just missing the far right post on shots. If the post was a foot out further there would have been two goals for Cincinnati. Shooting seven times but only able to get two on target the shot accuracy was lacking. Sean Okoli and Andrew Wiedeman had the best chances of the half but Okoli had a bad first touch in a one on one situation with the keeper and Wiedeman couldn’t get to a loose ball in the box after knocking it away from the keeper before a clearance by a St. Louis defender.

St Louis played well for the first ten minutes or so but after that they were on their heels for the rest of the half. St. Louis had one shot and was able to get it on target and had a few corners that could have been tricky but nothing that was a great chance for them.

In the second half Cincinnati was still able to dominate play but couldn’t find the net until late. The continued assault of the goal with nine shots but only getting one on target. Possession was controlled and the two corners were good balls with the second and final one giving up the penalty. St. Louis looked to defend again and stop Cincinnati from getting into good positions with physical play picking up nine fouls and two yellow cards.

Moments of the Match

4 – FC Cincinnati’s Tyler Polak made a great run down the left side of the pitch and got to the endline before passing back to Alvaro Ripoli whose shot was deflected and twice and ended up behind for a goal kick after hitting Sean Okoli.

14 – Sean Okoli had a bad touch in a one on one situation with the St. Louis goalkeeper off a very good pass from Pat McMahon.

18 – Cincinnati had a free kick outside the box from the left hand side. Corben Bone crossed it in and St. Louis was able to send it out pretty easily.

21 – Cincinnati had a loose ball in the box for Andrew Wiedeman who was unable to get to the ball before it was cleared away by a St. Louis defender. A very good chance but contact between Wiedeman and the St. Louis keeper Mark Pais forced the loose ball and Wiedeman was unable to get up before the clearance.

32 – Jimmy McLaughin made a dangerous run down the left and put a shot on frame forcing a good save from Paris.

41 – Cincinnati had a counter attack from McLaughlin off a corner where he was running at three St. Louis defenders with Okoli on his left. He passed to Okoli who had a hard cross across goal that McLaughlin just missed getting onto.

44 – Cincinnati just missed three times off a shots from Kenny Walker and Wiedeman and a ball just out of reach for Okoli.

58’ – Okoli got the first yellow card of the match for a foul in the midfield trying to win the ball back.

62’ – Mitch Lurie got the first yellow card for St. Louis after dragging down Okoli in the midfield.

70’ – A Cross from McLaughlin on the left to Wiedeman who headed it down to Okoli where the ball was cleared over the bar by a defender. On the resulting corner Okoli just put a header over from inside the six-yard box.

76’ – Jordan Roberts got the second yellow for St. Louis after a hard challenge on Ripoli on the right of the box. The resulting free kick was headed high and wide by Okoli.

80’ – After good build-up play Wiedeman had a shot from about 25 yards out go wide.

84’ – Okoli finally scored off a header by Wiedeman who headed it down for the touch that Okoli was able to put past Pais. Ripoli gets a hockey assist for the cross over to Wiedeman.

86 – St. Louis’s Doody equalized quickly off a ball that was punched out by Hildebrandt where he was able to fire it back in and find the net.

90’ +3 – A penalty for Cincinnati after handball from Dixon off a corner. Okoli stepped up and buried it from the spot in the final minute of extra time.

FC Cincinnati next plays away against the Wilmington Hammerheads on Sunday September 11 at 3pm. The last time they met was in Cincinnati when they tied 1-1 back on April 30.

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