After defeating Oakland County 3-0 on Sunday, Grand Rapids FC returned to the Midwest United FC Soccer Complex to play another opponent from the east side of the state in the Flint City Bucks.
A hard-fought game resulted in opportunities for both sides, and with a goal each in the last ten minutes of the match, GRFC and Flint City split the points in a 1-1 draw.
Flint City nearly got off the mark early as a cutting run through the middle and a layoff to the left side opened up an opportunity for Ids Hannema who put a shot toward goal that went off the post and out for goal kick in the third minute of play.
In the 9th minute, Farai Mutatu had a chance for the Boys in Blue as a GRFC defender went “route one” and sent a ball over the Bucks backline for Mutatu to run on to. Letting the ball bounce, Mutatu took a shot on the half volley that was blocked by a recovering Bucks defender as the opportunity fizzled out.
The best chance of the opening half came in stoppage time as a GRFC foul resulted in a free kick from a wide area about 40 yards out from goal. The Bucks played the ball in, and after a bit of a scrum, the ball fell to a Flint City player at the penalty shot. Connecting well, the resulting shot whistled just over the crossbar and the teams went into the half tied 0-0.
The second half saw a lot of broken play as both teams played physically, picking up fouls and breaking up attacking chances.
Flint City had a few chances in quick succession starting in the 61st minute. On a counter attack, Dylan Borczak ripped a shot on goal that was saved by goalkeeper Joe White. On the ensuing corner kick, Jake Erlandson rose above the crowd to head the ball toward the goal, but it was off the crossbar and eventually cleared by the GRFC defense.
Despite a lack of offensive opportunities, Grand Rapids continued to push, and in the 79th minute, got a spark from substitute Ryan Debois as he was able to beat his defender into the box and was then fouled, earning a penalty kick.
Stepping up to the spot was Matty Cornish who took the kick and beat the Flint City goalkeeper to the bottom left corner to give GRFC the 1-0 lead.
Unfortunately for the hosts, the lead did not last long. In the 84th minute, a GRFC foul gave the Bucks a free kick from 30 yards straight out from goal. Harvey Slade took the kick for Flint City and his shot deflected off a member of the Grand Rapids wall, wrong-footing goalkeeper Joe White as it spun into the other side of the net.
In the remaining time, neither team saw another significant scoring opportunity, and the match ended in a 1-1 draw.
“If someone looked at just the result, it doesn’t tell the whole story of the game,” said head coach Stu Collins. “To say that we were leading and then to give up the goal we gave up after absorbing so much pressure and limiting them to playing in areas where they probably didn’t want to play, it was a tough one to take.”
“There was a lot of the game where we showed our quality, we showed some really good moments,” added Collins. “We have to extend those periods, but I’m proud of the fight, I’m proud of the effort.”
“They’re a good side, probably the best that we’ve played,” said the goal-scorer Matty Cornish, who netted his fourth goal of the season. “They were always going to create chances. We survived, and then got the goal. Then it’s about being able to see the game out at that point and get the three points, but obviously the free kick got deflected, and that’s really unfortunate. Maybe we have to be a bit smarter in the future to not give away so many set pieces, but other than that you can’t fault the effort and determination of the boys, and on another day we might have got three points.”
With the draw, GRFC is now 1-4-1 with seven points on the year. Grand Rapids looks to return to the win column as it travels to Fort Wayne on Sunday for its first reverse fixture of the season. Grand Rapids and Fort Wayne battled to a 0-0 draw in the first match of the season.
Kickoff on Sunday is scheduled for 6:00 pm. Follow our social media for the livestream and match updates.