FC Monmouth Suffers First-Ever Home Loss
RED BANK, NJ - FC Monmouth was defeated for the first time in club history at Count Basie Park, 3-2, on Saturday night by reigning Keystone Conference winners FC Motown.
“I don’t think we fear any team,” said forward Regsan Watkins. “Obviously, you know, Motown — they’re one of the powerhouses in the conference and went really far in the competition last year, but we obviously showed out today… as soon as we stepped on the field anything can happen and I think we shocked them a little bit in the first thirty minutes scoring two goals.”
The Blue and Gold got off to a dream start just nine minutes into the match when midfielder Bryant Knibbs scored a goal that bested even his previous efforts. From the top-left corner of the box, Knibbs shifted the ball onto his right foot and sent an unstoppable curling strike into the top-right corner.
“Yeah, it’s nice to get on the score sheet and help the team get out to that early lead, but like I said, I would rather have three points than a goal for my stats,” he said.
About twenty minutes later, Watkins extended FC Monmouth’s lead to two after being played in behind by a brilliant first-time ball from forward Brian Hawkins. Watkins latched onto the pass, burned a defender down the right side, and slotted a shot across the face of goal into the far corner.
“Hawkins played a great ball in and I had the time and space to go forward,” Watkins said. “I looked up at the keeper and just picked my spot, made good contact, and yeah — it was a great feeling.”
FC Monmouth nearly extended their lead to three after Hawkins sent a low ball across the box on the counter, but forward Anthony Rovito was unable to keep his first-time shot on frame from close range.
Just moments before half-time, FC Motown scored a pivotal goal to cut Monmouth’s lead in half. An exceptional low cross was sent through the box, out of reach from Monmouth’s defenders, that found forward Chris Katona at the back post, who tapped it in with his first touch.
“I think any goal before half-time shifts the momentum in whoever scores the goal’s favor,” Watkins said. “I know that that was probably one of the only real chances they had in the first half, they put it away, and suddenly they’re back in the game after not really causing us too many problems in behind our defense.”
“We just weren’t paying attention,” said Knibbs. “It’s easily fixable, but it got them right back in the game and you know going into the second half they were going to make subs that could come in and impact the game, and that’s exactly what they did.”
In the 65th minute, FC Monmouth came close to taking back their two-goal lead. Knibbs played a pass to Hawkins, who slipped past the defender and had an open shot from inside of the area, but it was right at the keeper. Motown immediately broke down the other end, and it took a strong save from goalkeeper Jake Leahy to keep Katona from leveling the score.
FC Motown found the equalizer less than ten minutes later, when second-half sub Kristian Shkreli went down in the box to draw a penalty kick. Katona put it away to make it 2-2.
Motown swung the momentum — and then the scoreline — into their favor, taking the lead six minutes after the penalty. Shkreli cut across the top of the box onto his right foot and sent a shot into the bottom-left corner to complete the comeback for the visitors.
“The substitutions that they made were very good, they kind of changed the complexion of the game and to be honest with you, the subs that they made were probably the right subs at the right time,” said Head Coach Brian Woods. Motown’s Shkreli drew the foul for the penalty kick and scored the winner, and 2018 National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) Golden Ball winner Matt Nigro did not enter the game until the second half. “We had some answers, we did some things to kind of counteract what they were doing, but all in all it was a good mix by them to come out onto the field and put on the pressure.”
Woods said that the experience shared within the Motown squad made the difference on Saturday. “That result happened because we are too young and not seasoned enough, not like their team,” he said. “Motown is a seasoned team with real veterans and they were able to get something out of their veterans going into the end of the match.”
Woods said, “I was proud of them (the team) and I thought that they played hard, they played well, and we have two more games coming up in this stretch that we have to get ready for and [we have to] just forget about this and move on and go from there.”
“We’re really competitive,” said Watkins. “We never give up, we fight ‘till the last minute, and sometimes the result doesn’t go your way, but we really fought it out as best as we could today.”
FC Monmouth will not have much time to dwell on the loss, with a crucial match back at Count Basie Park on Wednesday night versus Atlantic City FC coming up.
Knibbs said, “We gotta focus, we gotta get back to training on Tuesday, we gotta get three points on Wednesday.”