10 Cards Given in Dramatic Game as FC Buffalo Loses Last Game of the Season 3-2

Fans waited for almost an hour for the game to start after Cleveland's bus broke down.

Fans waited for almost an hour for the game to start after Cleveland's bus broke down.

FC Buffalo fell 3-2 on a humid Friday night in which Buffalo fans were subject to a huge range of emotions in the course of an eventful game.  The night began with a delay as opponent AFC Cleveland was waylaid by a mechanical failure on their team bus.  Kickoff was pushed back almost an hour as a result, though FC Buffalo fans might have been happy for Cleveland to not arrive at all had they known what was coming.

AFC Cleveland was first to be booked as Buffalo’s Ngwese Ebangwese was fouled in the fifth minute.  However, Buffalo struck first at goal, putting one up on the score sheet in the eighth minute.  Midfielder Anthony Rozzano made a run across the top of the box, pulling defenders, then laid it off to Rob Brandell just above him, who took a low hard shot that AFC Cleveland keeper Anthony Flowers couldn’t quite handle. Forward Ngwese Ebangwese cleaned up the rebound to score the early goal.

Cleveland responded in at 22’.  Midfielder Antonio Manfut escaped down the right sideline in an unusual play.  After some contact from behind given by Buffalo defender Adam Lauko, he started to fall forward and Lauko let up to try to avoid appearing as though he had fouled Manfut.  However, Manfut caught himself and, with space, took off toward the end line as the ref allowed advantage.  Putting a low ball into the middle, his open teammate turned and placed a shot in the bottom left corner of the net past FC Buffalo keeper Andrew Coughlin.

FC Buffalo Coach Brendan Murphy talks with the Referees before the game.  The Refs would have a busy night, handing out six Yellow cards and four Red cards.

FC Buffalo Coach Brendan Murphy talks with the Referees before the game.  The Refs would have a busy night, handing out six Yellow cards and four Red cards.

In the 27th minute, Anthony Rozzano would receive Buffalo’s first booking of the night.  After an apparent handball by AFC Cleveland in midfield, Rozzano thought the referee had made the call and picked up the ball to place it for a free kick.  Unfortunately for him, there had been no such call and the intentional handball that Rozzano committed picking up the ball got him a Yellow.

Shortly afterwards, Buffalo would score their second goal as Ebangwese took a pass through the middle from Brian Knapp, made a nice move to keep possession in tight quarters and buried the chance from the top of the six-yard box to put Buffalo up 2-1  That score would carry to halftime, though Cleveland tried to even in the 37th minute on a run from Manfut up the left sideline.  Buffalo’s Fox Slotemaker gave a hard tackle to stop the run and received a Yellow card for his trouble.

A play through the midfield in the beginning of the second half.

A play through the midfield in the beginning of the second half.

Throughout the first half, Cleveland’s Manfut was the top offensive playmaker for Cleveland.  He would open the second half scoring by putting home a volley in the 51st minute after the ball came free at the top the box following a corner kick.  He continued to cause problems for Buffalo as the half went on and Buffalo defenders started getting frustrated trying to tackle him.  Center back Kendell McFayden was given a Yellow card at 58’ after Manfut got tripped up on his late slide tackle.  At 71’ Chris Walter got a Yellow under similar circumstances. 

It seemed as though FC Buffalo was always just a half step behind speedy Cleveland players and Cleveland fell down too easily for Buffalo to control the game with physicality, though it wasn’t for lack of trying.  Unfortunately, that escalation came with an exponentially greater response from the referee, who seemed to be looking for any excuse to give out more cards to Buffalo.  McFayden made a strong tackle after a misplay in the box in the 82nd minute and was unexpectedly shown a Red card and ejected from the game, leaving Buffalo with only 10 men for the final minutes.  (Coughlin miraculously saved the ensuing PK attempt, but the effort would prove futile).  Then in the 88th minute the Referee held up the game to threaten an FC Buffalo player on the bench with a card because he was standing on the bench.  Following the stoppage, AFC Cleveland would score a goal to break Buffalo's spirit as Sergio Manesio found space at the top of the box and rocketed a shot across his body past Coughlin.

As stoppage time began, Buffalo frantically tried to get back in the game but couldn’t get any traction while down a man.  The game would end with a series of bookings as Cleveland hit a through ball toward the top of Buffalo’s box in the 93rd minute.  Chris Walters contested the fifty-fifty ball as he and the Cleveland player both sprinted onto it.  As Walters tried to slide into the ball, both players went down, but the referee immediately gave Walters a Red Card.  As his FC Buffalo teammates vehemently argued against this, the referee gave out two more Red cards for dissent, including one to the keeper, Coughlin.  Fortunately, the game would end before play could resume, so Buffalo did not need to try to play four men down.

With the loss, Buffalo drops to fourth and has to wait for a few outstanding matches to see if they will keep their playoff slot.   If they do, Buffalo will play again July 24th.

Also, I took some extra pictures this time around, so feel free to take a look:

FC Buffalo warms up.

FC Buffalo warms up.

AFC Cleveland does the same

AFC Cleveland does the same

Food trucks bolster the concession stands outside All High Stadium  Franks Gourmet Hot Dogs, Black Market Food Truck, and Flaming Fish Truck are pictured.

Food trucks bolster the concession stands outside All High Stadium  Franks Gourmet Hot Dogs, Black Market Food Truck, and Flaming Fish Truck are pictured.

Dusk falls as the first half goes on.

Dusk falls as the first half goes on.