Midfielder Mike Ambersley scored off his left foot in 90th minute stoppage time to give AC St. Louis a well-deserved point in Portland as the two teams drew 1-1, before a vocal crowd of over 10,000 Saturday night. The result ups the record of AC St. Louis to 1-5-1 before their home match next Saturday against FC Tampa Bay.
Veterans Manuel Kante and Captain Jack Traynor were back in action after missing last Saturday’s contest in Rochester. Their presence and leadership helped stabilize AC St. Louis defensively and in keeping possession, particularly early in the match. A scoreless first half was played pretty evenly by both clubs, as Portland Coach Gavin Wilkinson made three changes to his starting lineup after Thursday’s upset loss to Crystal Palace Baltimore. AC St. Louis gained two corner kicks to none for the Timbers, although the Timbers outshot the St. Louisans 10-1 in the first half. AC St. Louis lone forward, Alex Titton, had little service and played almost entirely with his back to goal, and didn’t factor much offensively although he did pressure Portland defenders into making some poor kicks upfield. Alec Dufty made several good stops while a 27th minute shot by Portland’s scoring sensation Ryan Pore went wide and OJ Obatola’s 30th minute bicycle kick flew over Dufty’s goalpost.
The second half was again pretty evenly played, although Alec Dufty made a good kick save off a Pore shot in the 58th minute. Portland forward Mandjou Keita broke the ice, though, in the 66th minute as he slipped a low shot to the right of Dufty that found the back of the net. The ever-dangerous Pore assisted. Dufty made another good save off a Pore shot in the 86th minute, as Claude Anelka’s squad seemed to be finally running out of steam, but a few seconds into stoppage time, Ryan Moore crossed the ball from deep in Portland territory into the box, where defender Tim Velten got his foot on the ball and Ambersley was able to spin to his left and shoot low past Portland goalkeeper Steve Cronin and salvage a point for his team.
AC St. Louis goalkeeper Alec Dufty kept AC St. Louis in the game with his fine goaltending. The backline played well, and the midfield was able to hold a good portion of possession throughout the game, but, as has been the case throughout the year, AC St. Louis had difficulty in the other teams third of the field, unable to connect a final pass to an open player to get a shot off, and Portland defender Mamadou “Futty” Danso was a disruptive force for Portland. Overall, though, a much better performance by AC St. Louis than on their previous visit to Portland. It was a very physical match, as the referee overlooked many fouls by both teams, but AC St. Louis played with a good deal of poise and showed great character to tie the score in the last seconds of the game. Congratulations to St. Louisan Mike Ambersley on his first goal of the season. John Lesko, Brad Stisser and Ryan Moore were second half substitutes for Mark Bloom, Alex Titton and Troy Cole.
AC St.Louis Starting Lineup: Dufty, Bloom, Velten, Traynor, Barna, Ambersley, Kante, Gauchinho, Cole, Kreamalmeyer, Titton