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Albadawi's Late Strike Leads NCFC to 2-1 Win in Memphis

August 10, 2019 - United Soccer League Championship (USL) - North Carolina FC News Release

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Aug. 10, 2019) - A late strike by Nazmi Albadawi in the 88th minute led North Carolina FC to a 2-1 win on the road at Memphis 901 FC Saturday night at AutoZone Park.

With the win, NCFC (11W-5L-7D, 40 points) maintained its position in fifth place in the USL Championship Eastern Conference and picked up its sixth road win of the season.

After Memphis' Brandon Allen opened up the scoring with a 20th-minute goal, NCFC began to settle into the match. Head coach Dave Sarachan's team began knocking on the door, as midfielder Graham Smith saw his deflected effort bounce off the crossbar in the 31st minute.

Right before the halftime whistle blew, NCFC got on even terms with Donovan Ewolo's fifth goal of the season, which came on a bicycle kick one minute into first-half stoppage time, as Memphis goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell struggled to handle the shot.

Solid defense and good goalkeeping by Alex Tambakis (four saves) kept the hosts frustrated offensively for much of the night after their initially positive start, and NCFC began to push forward in the game's final stage.

That persistence paid off once Ewolo made a threatening run toward the 18-yard box from the right flank before laying off to midfielder Ben Speas, who set Albadawi up for the game-winning goal, a wonder strike from well beyond the area that whizzed into the left corner of the net. The goal was the first of the homegrown Albadawi's second stint with NCFC, having joined from FC Cincinnati on loan in May.

In possession of a late lead, NCFC remained poised and saw out the result, protecting its advantage throughout six minutes of stoppage time.

Fact to Know

Saturday's victory marked the first time NCFC won after conceding the game's opening goal.

Notes

- NCFC improved to 5W-4L-3D on the road.

- NCFC remained unbeaten when coming off a loss (6W-0L-0D) between USL Championship and U.S. Open Cup play.

- Donovan Ewolo is now third on the team with five goals on the season.

- NCFC's youth-to-pro pipeline was on full display Saturday, as NCFC Academy products DJ Taylor and Dre Fortune were named in the starting lineup, as were former NCFC U23 standouts Nazmi Albadawi and Alex Comsia. Caleb Duvernay, who played for both the NCFC Academy and NCFC U23 program, was named to the bench.

- Alex Comsia returned from injury, playing for the first time since June 29. The UNC product also recorded an assist in the win.

- Ben Speas dished out his fifth assist of the year, tied for the most on the team.

- Steven Miller, Justin Rennicks and Austin da Luz each appeared as second-half substitutes.

- Aaron Guillen captained NCFC for the second straight game.

Looking Ahead

NCFC returns home to host Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC at Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park on Saturday, Aug. 17, at 7:00 p.m. The first 1,800 fans to enter the stadium will receive a free NCFC T-shirt courtesy of Circle K, a proud corporate sponsor of North Carolina Football Club. Teen Cancer America ambassadors and former Atlantic Coast Conference basketball stars Brice Johnson and Nolan Smith will also attend the match to promote their upcoming Hoop-a-Thons on Aug. 24 and 25 in Chapel Hill and Durham, respectively. For tickets and information please visit www.NorthCarolinaFC.com or call the Coastal Credit Union Box Office at 919-459-8144.

Box Score:

MEM (4-4-2): Jeff Caldwell; Abdi Mohamed (Lagos Kunga, 71'), Marc Burch ©, Liam Doyle, Wes Charpie; Adam Najem, Dan Metzger, Pierre Da Silva (Jochen Graf, 90'), Leston Paul (Ewan Grandison, 62'); Marcus Epps, Brandon Allen

Subs not used: Morgan Hackworth, Scott Levene, Todd Pratzner, Luca Uccello

NCFC (4-2-3-1): Alex Tambakis; Aaron Guillen ©, Sam Brotherton, Alex Comsia, DJ Taylor; Nazmi Albadawi, Graham Smith; Yamikani Chester (Steven Miller, 66'), Dre Fortune (Justin Rennicks, 71'), Ben Speas (Austin da Luz, 89'); Donovan Ewolo

Subs: Darrin MacLeod, Timmy Mehl, Robert Kristo, Caleb Duvernay

Score:

MEM: 1

NCFC: 2

Goals:

MEM: Brandon Allen (Liam Doyle, 20')

NCFC: Donovan Ewolo (Alex Comsia, 45+1'), Nazmi Albadawi (Ben Speas, 88')

Cautions:

MEM: Marc Burch 79', Pierre Da Silva 81'

NCFC: Dre Fortune 28', Alex Comsia 56'

Ejections:

MEM: --

NCFC: --

Attendance: 7,006


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