A Frustrating Second Half Results in FC Tulsa’s First Loss at Home Since April 23
TULSA – A tough-fought 90 minutes ended in debate and dispute for FC Tulsa on Wednesday night as a questionable call in the 73′ minute altered the potential outcome of the match, but as interim head coach Donovan Ricketts said after the match, “In football, sometimes you’re going to get calls, and sometimes they’re going to go against you.”
The first half was approached slowly by both sides with neither club earning itself a true scoring chance through the first 30 minutes of play. FC Tulsa was happy to keep possession and dictate the pace of the match, playing with the ball at its feet for 65% of the time through the first half hour of the match. Four total shots were taken, two by each side, as each tried to figure the other out through backward passes and horizontal lobs.
The Tulsa attack seemed to operate by methodical passing and looking for forward Brian Brown to make a run off the hip of the last New Mexico defender throughout the first half. However, the timing was off as the delivered pass always seemed to come one second too late, resulting in four offsides calls against Brown.
Heartbeats increased and fans rose to their feet for the first time in the 39′ minute as a golden chance to score slipped through FC Tulsa’s fingers. Sean McFarlane delivered a beauty into the box, right to the feet of Brown. Brown’s initial close-range shot was denied by the keeper but the rebound fell back to his right foot. His second attempt was denied by another New Mexico defender, and by this time, the scramble was on. Eight players were in the box, two New Mexico men were on their backsides after hurling their bodies to block Tulsa’s barrage, and chaos ensued. Ultimately, the ball would spill out to Noah Powder in his FC Tulsa debut, but Powder put his shot over the crossbar.
The first half concluded with each side totaling four shots, one on target, and zeros on the scoreboard. It was only the third time an FC Tulsa match went into the break tied 0-0 at ONEOK Field this season, the first resulting in a 1-0 win over San Diego Loyal SC, the other holding at 0-0 vs. Miami FC.
It was the visitors that found the back of the net first in the second half, courtesy of Alexis Souahy. A low-driven cross rolled all the way across the Tulsa goal, targeting Souahy at the far post and giving New Mexico United the 1-0 advantage.
Tulsa nearly replied immediately with Rodrigo da Costa searching for his third goal over his last three matches in the 56′ minute. The Brazilian made a nice run and was picked out by Lebo Moloto, putting the ball in the net only to be whistled offside. Da Costa did not agree with the assistant referee’s decision, wagging his finger in the air to express his disapproval.
The breakthrough FC Tulsa had been working for came into fruition by way of an own goal. Tulsa earned a corner kick in the 70′ minute, and following a shot and a deflection or two, the ball bounced off the head of Rashid Tetteh and into New Mexico’s net, leveling the score.
Nothing would go Tulsa’s way the remainder of the match as controversy and frustration became the main characters of this story in the final 20 minutes of action.
Defender Johnny Fenwick was called for a foul in the penalty area after former FC Tulsa man Jerome Kiesewetter went down with minimal contact from Fenwick in the 73′ minute. Over 4,600 fans at ONEOK Field voiced their opinion of the call, along with the entire Tulsa squad and coaching staff. After the dust settled, Fenwick was shown yellow, a member of the Tulsa coaching staff was sent off, and Justin Portillo converted the penalty kick to give New Mexico the 2-1 lead.
The frustration from the awarded penalty boiled over and FC Tulsa was called for foul after foul, resulting in tensions flaring between both sides. Adrián Diz Pe was shown yellow and Fenwick was booked for the second time for a second challenge against Kiesewetter, resulting in a red card. Arguments between players became frequent and were only put to rest by the final whistle.
FC Tulsa will have a week and a half to regroup after Wednesday’s disappointing result before it is back in action on Saturday, July 23 on the road against Birmingham Legion FC.