Goals by #56 Gabriel Obertan (33’) & #9 Dane Kelly (72’)
LEXINGTON, K.Y. (September 17, 2023) – The Charlotte Independence added another point to the season total with a 2-2 tie against Lexington SC on Sunday evening at Toyota Stadium. The Jacks are back home against Forward Madison FC on Saturday, September 23 at 5:00 p.m. for Latin Heritage Night. Tickets start at just $12 here.
#7 Avionne Flanagan was off to the races for the Jacks’ first chance of the night in the 11th minute, streaming down the left side and beating a defender on the way towards goal, but his shot sailed high of the target.
As he has done all year, #1 Austin Pack displayed more goalkeeping heroics, earning his 100th save of the season on a penalty kick taken by #32 Ates Diouf. Pack’s league-leading effort maintained the deadlock in the 24th minute.
“It was a huge save, and it kept us in the game,” Head Coach Mike Jeffries said about Pack’s penalty kick stop. “We felt like we were coming into the game, feeling good, and then the penalty almost came out of nothing, so it was a huge save and definitely helped give a confidence boost to the guys.”
Lexington continued to threaten on offense as #14 Khalid Balogun fired a shot off the goalpost in the 31st minute and #77 Nico Brown sent one just over the crossbar off of the rebound.
On the other end, #56 Gabriel Obertan put Charlotte in the lead in the 33rd minute with his third goal of the season. #6 Omar Ciss passed the ball to Obertan in space where he turned towards goal and surprised the goalkeeper with his shot from 25 yards away from net.
The Independence tried to take advantage of counterattacks in the closing minutes of the first half as Lexington was pressuring on offense. #90 Khori Bennett challenged goalkeeper #13 Amahl Knight outside of the penalty area in the 45th minute, and Obertan ran onto a long ball inside stoppage time.
Halftime: Lexington SC 0, Charlotte Independence 1.
Pack was called into action again in the 58th minute after Lexington took a quick free kick at the edge of the penalty area and Pack made a diving save to clear the danger.
Only moments later, Lexington tied the score with a goal by #25 Pierre Mane. Diouf hit a shot off the crossbar which landed in the path of Mane, allowing him to head it into the back of the net. Lexington carried the momentum following the tying goal and took the lead in the 67th minute after #8 Joel Johnson hit the ball in his own net while trying to clear a dangerous cross.
“There were plays we could have handled a little better,” Jeffries explained. “We knew coming into the second half that Lexington was going to push with everything. We thought we’d be able to manage it and get chances on counters. Unfortunately, we conceded off the rebound and off an own goal. I do give the guys a lot of credit. We didn’t put our heads down, and we pushed the game really hard after that and managed to get the equalizer.”
Six minutes after entering the match as a substitute, #9 Dane Kelly got on the scoresheet to tie the game in the 72nd minute. #5 Kaelon Fox misplayed a pass back to his goalkeeper Knight, and Kelly had no issue beating the goalkeeper with a curling shot.
Kelly had the chance to score a second in the 82nd minute, but Knight made an outstretched save to send the ball out for a corner kick. In the aftermath of a Lexington corner kick in the 90th minute, #14 Luis Alvarez carried the ball down the field with Kelly in support, but the Lexington defense was able to track back to clear the danger before the Independence struck again.
“I do feel like points were left on the field,” Kelly added. “This was a winnable game for us, but not giving away all three points was good for us, especially on the road.”
The Jacks played out the final few minutes to secure the tie and another point in the USL League One Standings. Charlotte will look to clinch a playoff spot in one of the upcoming games.
“As a team, it shows character to come back and get the point on the road,” Pack commented.
Full time: Lexington SC 2, Charlotte Independence 2.
NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE: The Charlotte Independence will face Forward Madison FC at home on Saturday, September 23 at 5:00 p.m. It is Latin Heritage Night at American Legion Memorial Stadium, and tickets start at just $12 here.