Lexington Extinguish Fuego Comeback To Get The Revenge Victory

Lexington SC extinguished Central Valley Fuego’s comeback efforts in a 3-2 win over the Fresno side on Saturday night. The Boys in Green (or Black, in this case) got the lead early and kept it all night, even after a solid 2nd half-effort by Fuego. The victory moves Lexington to 6-6-10 with 24 points through 22 matches and drops Fuego to 5-2-14 with 17 points through 21 matches. The result also marks the first time Lexington SC has won 2 games in a row after last week’s thriller out in Windsor, Colorado.

Coach Sam Stockley put out the same starting 11 that we saw contribute to the comeback efforts out in Windsor, and the consistency in the lineup paid off in full, especially within the first 10 minutes, as Lexington was up 2-0 on Fuego by the 8th minute thanks to the efforts of Tate “Chef Robo” Robertson, who I did say would be the player to watch for in the match (little self pat on the back). 

Robertson opened the scoring in the 4th minute off a free kick that should earn him consideration for Goal of the Week by the league by curling the ball over the wall and down into the bottom left corner. The goal marked Robertson’s 3rd of the year, all from free kicks just outside the box. He followed this up in the 8th minute by nutmegging a Fuego defender on a perfect little tap pass to Nico Brown for his 7th goal of the year. Robertson’s 7th assist moved him into a tie for 2nd place with Miguel Ibarra of the Independence for the league lead in assists and just 1 behind Arthur Rodgers of the Hailstorm.

Lexington would dominate possession of the ball for the entirety of the first half, having control of the ball for 54% of the half and completing 91% of their passes. Ates Diouf was practically dancing around Fuego’s defense the entire first half of the game; on one particular run, he ran the length of the box parallel to the goal, avoiding Fuego’s defenders left and right trying the get a shot off or finding a teammate to pass to before being dispossessed. Additionally, the backline made it extremely difficult for Fuego to create anything offensively, allowing just 2 shots the entire first half – both of which were blocked by Lexington defenders. 
The 2nd half is where things got more interesting. Fuego finally found a spark of offense in the 53rd minute when Victor Flack (whose parents travel out to the match from his hometown of Virginia Beach) rocketed a shot from 23 yards out into the upper left corner to bring Fuego within just 1 goal of Lexington. However, Lexington’s PK specialist Don Smart would widen the lead back to 2 when he buried his 5th PK of the season after Fuego’s keeper Matias Fernadez attempted to clear the ball from his box in the 58th minute but ended up colliding with Khalid Balogun’s feet to lead to the penalty.

Fuego did step up offensively in the 2nd half, especially after going down 3-1, launching 16 shots, with 6 on target in just the 2nd half. Lexington keeper Amal Knight, the reigning Save the Week award winner, made another fantastic save in the 64th minute off a shot by wonderkid Maximus Ekk to keep Fuego’s hope of a comeback low. Ekk would get another shot at a goal in the 76th minute, but he skied his chance over the bar. Fuego and Lexington would go back-and-forth for the remaining 20 minutes (7 minutes of stoppage time was added), with Lexington having a fantastic chance to go up by 3 goals in the 86th minute with shots by SoSo, Balogun, and Smart all hurling towards the net in a scramble but Fuego’s backline did well in bailing out their keeper.

Fuego would get the final goal of the match from their leading scoring Alexis Cerritos, who many thought would not play in this game due to his call-up to the El Salvador national team matches starting on Monday the 14th, fired in a shot from 27 yards out that just bounced over Knight’s diving effort in the 88th minute. Both sides would have some back-and-forth efforts but no other notable highlights before the referee’s final whistle, solidifying 3 points for the Boys in Green, moving them just 8 out of the final playoff spot with 10 matches left. After the final whistle, there was a post-match scuffle between the two sides. However, the referee was able to gain control of it, and the customary post-match handshakes and hugs followed.

In his post-match interview, Coach Stockly spoke on the chaos of the match – “For us it was a bit of a nail biter, I think I’ve lost a little bit more hair lately, but we’ll take another three points and back-to-back wins, which is huge for us, I think we’re second in the league in creating the biggest chances and now we’re starting to convert them. Scoring goals for us is becoming a little bit easier, but I wouldn’t say it’s easy. We’ve got to continue to work and grow out the moments just after we score and just after halftime.” 

Stockley continued with some words on the heart of this team that the fans love so much – “I think you can tell by my palms, they’re a bit sweaty, but when we went to Northern Colorado, we were 3-1 down and came back 4-3. Even if you’re 3-1 at this level, it’s never over, that’s the beauty of this game. That’s why we love this game because it can go to the 95-96th minute. Obviously when they scored that second goal with five or six minutes to go there was a natural tension and a natural urge to freeze a bit but I’m so proud of this group. It’s never over until it’s over.”

For his efforts, Robertson was voted by the fans as the Man of the Match and talked about the team’s efforts post-match with Tyler Crane of Crane Kicks Lex, “We started off on the right foot, 2-0 within 10 minutes…when you start like that, you’re going to put yourself in a good spot…Coaches believe in me, teammates believe in me… I do everything for them…I want to see them (teammates) do well…I want to see them score goals and I’m trying to help them and help the team.”

Lexington Sporting Club travel down to Knoxville for their next match to take on rivals One Knoxville SC on Friday, August 18th, at 7:30 pm. The match will be the final meeting in “The Barrel Brawl” of the season, with the winner on aggregate taking home a bourbon barrel and a bottle of bourbon from the losers city. Knoxville currently leads the series 3-2 on aggregate. I do not know the plan if the aggregate score ends in a tie.
Check back later this week for our preview of that match, and as always, follow Bluegrass Soccer Cast (@BGSoccerCast on all social media platforms) for full coverage of Lexington SC, and all things soccer in our beautiful Commonwealth!


  • Jon Hunt

    Jon Hunt is an avid and enthusiastic soccer podcast host. Originally from the Detroit area, he now resides in central Kentucky. Jon brings passion and his love of soccer history to the Bluegrass Soccer Cast community. His ultimate goal is to continue the growth of soccer in America with a focus of the thriving soccer scene in Kentucky. #ProRelForUSA

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Lexington Extinguish Fuego Comeback To Get The Revenge Victory

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