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Rhinos stunned by Orange County in 1-0 home loss
Orange County Blues FC broke a six match losing streak with a 1:0 victory over the Rochester Rhinos in Sahlen's Stadium on Sunday evening, August 10th 2014. Allan Russell scored his team leading seventh goal from the penalty spot in the 41st minute for the only goal of the match. Aaron Perez made three saves on nine shots faced for his first clean sheet of the 2014 season.
Orange County Blues FC opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 41st minute. Russell stepped up to the penalty spot, and drove his shot just inside the left post. Rochester rookie goalkeeper John McCarthy read Russell and dove the correct way, but the quality of Russell's shot was too good and the visitors scored the only goal of the match.
Orange County had the first chance of the match in the 12th minute. Left back Joshua Suggs sprung left winger Thomas Garner with a thru ball down the left flank. Garner dribbled the ball to the end line before serving a cross that went all the way through the Rochester penalty area. Alex Martinez picked up the ball on the right flank, dribbled to the end line and then served a ball that traced the Rhinos goal line before Rochester right back Pat McMahon cleared the ball away to end the Blues threat.
Ten minutes later Martinez created another chance from the right flank for the visiting Blues. This time he served an early ball in from his position at the top right corner of the Rhinos penalty area. Martinez bent his service into Garner's run to the near post, but Garner could not direct an effort on goal. The service ultimately ran through the box and over the end line for a Rhinos goal kick.
Rochester had their first opportunity of the match in the 34th minute. Rhinos center back Patrick Slogic played a long ball over the top of the Blues back four that Rochester striker Colin Rolfe was able to run on to. Rolfe was pulled down from behind by Orange County center back Fabrice Gautrat 28 yards out from goal. Head referee Charles Murphy booked Gautrat for the foul and awarded the Rhinos a direct kick from the middle of the field. Rochester center midfielder Tony Walls took the free kick and put his effort on target, but Blues goalkeeper Aaron Perez dove to his right to keep the ball out. Rhinos midfielder Alec Sundly was first to the ball and directed the rebound on frame, but Perez got back to his feet to bat the ball away.
Former Rochester Rhinos striker Andrew Hoxie helped Orange County Blues FC open the scoring in the 40th minute. Hoxie took possession of the ball on the top right corner of the Rhinos penalty area. Hoxie cut inside past Rochester left back Onua Thomas Obasi, and Hoxie dribbled across the 18 yard box until he met the challenge of Rochester center back Babacar Diallo. Diallo's tackle knocked the ball away but Hoxie hit the ground at the top of the box. Murphy got a look at the foul and immediately pointed to the penalty spot.
The Rhinos had a chance to find the equalizer in first half stoppage time. Rochester midfielder Johnny Mendoza struck a corner kick from the right corner. Rhinos center back Patrick Slogic and Diallo both had chances to get their head on the service, but they could not put an effort on goal. The corner kick eventually fell to the feet of Walls. Walls hit a volley with his right foot from eight yards out on the far post, but his shot went directly into the legs of Perez.
Rochester Rhinos head coach bob Lilley rang in the changes at half time. Leading scorer JC Banks, who has been limited over the past two matches while recovering his fitness after a concussion, and Samuel Petrone replaced Mendoza and Sundly in midfield.
Luck almost gifted the Rhinos a goal in the 49th minute. Banks took a corner kick from the left corner with his right foot. His inswinger touched no one but ran through the Blues box until it bounced off of the far post and gratefully into the arms of Perez.
Hoxie created another chance for the visitors in the 61st minute. Hoxie went up for a long ball with Slogic ten yards into the Rochester half of the field. Hoxie was able to bring the ball down under the pressure of Slogic, turn, and run at the Rhinos back four. Hoxie dribbled right at Diallo before knocking a thru ball for Martinez at the top of the Rochester penalty area. Martinez took a touch before driving a shot on goal that McCarthy had to dive to his right to parry away. Orange County recycled the rebound to Martinez at the top of the box, but this time McCarthy dove to his right and held the ball to make the save.
Two minutes later the Rhinos had a chance on the other end of the pitch. Rochester right back Pat McMahon made an overlapping run down the right flank, dribbled to the endline, and then played a service into the Blues box. McMahon's cross found Petrone six yards out at the far post, but Petrone could not get enough on his finishing attempt to beat Perez.
Rochester had another chance in the 74th minute. Mike Garzi played centered the ball from the right flank across the top of the Orange County penalty area. Houapeu made the first run, but dummied Garzi's cross through his legs for the trailing run of Banks at the top of the box. Blues right back Stephen Okai ran through the back of Banks before Banks could control the ball. Murphy blew his whistle and awarded Rochester a free kick from 23 yards out. After Obasi made a decoy run over the ball on the free kick, Banks got his shot over the wall but couldn't get it back down on goal.
Banks had another chance from a free kick in the 81st minute. This time Garzi picked up a loose ball near the top of the box, and Murphy judged that he had been fouled by the Blues substitute Dersu Abolfathi 24 yards out in the middle of the pitch. Banks stepped up to take the free kick again, but the result was the same.
The 81st minute chance would be the last quality chance on goal for either team.
Three points jumped the Orange County Blues into the eighth and final playoff spot in the USL PRO table with 7 points from 23 matches. The Rhinos remained in sixth place with 31 points from 23 matches, but the pressure will increase on Rochester who needs to get results in their final five matches to ensure their participation in the post season tournament.