Both Sacramento Republic and Reno 1868 had lots of reasons to go for all three points in tonight’s match, as the two clubs are next to each other in the standings and have playoffs dreams. By the end of the night, it was the visitors that walked out of Papa Murphy’s Park with the victory.
The game began at a quick pace as both teams went on the offensive early. The best way to describe the pace of play for the first quarter of the match would be frenetic, as if a tie game was in its dying minutes.
Reno 1868 puts a quality shot near the frame within two minutes. The Republic were on the front foot for the next 10. Republic’s plan of attack for the Republic seemed to be chipped or driven through-balls over the top of Reno's defense in hopes of exploiting a perceived athletic advantage the attack hold over Reno’s defense.
The opening goal came in the 15th minute as a beautiful cross from James Kiffe found the head of Hayden Partain, which in turn found the back of the net despite Matt Bersano's outstretch arms.
However, not two minutes later Reno 1868 scored on an almost identical goal with Dane Kelly playing the role of Partain and Nick von Niederhausen of Kiffe.
The high level of offensive pressure did not let up there. In the 21st minute, a hard challenge by Elliot Hord just outside the box set up Reno’s Chris Wehan to score an absolutely perfectly placed free-kick off the crossbar and into the Republic goal. It honestly seemed to me as if the Republic were not really set for that free-kick though it would have likely not mattered as the shot from Whelan was just that good.
The 32nd minute saw Jeremy Hall get booked for a dubious yellow card. That card means that Hall will now be forced to sit this Wednesday vs. Swope Park Rangers to serve a one game suspension.
Just before the 40th minute, Kiffe and Reno's Kelly got into a mild shoving match and manifested the high tension between the clubs. No cards were given for this altercation and play continued to get chippier as the game progressed.
Shortly after the 40th minute, Reno's Man of the Match Kelly ripped a lazer of a shot directly at Newton, who averted a crisis with a save.
Just as the half seemed to be coming to a close, Reno made a horrifically errant pass that Trevin Caesar intercepted at full speed only to produce a very hesitant and disappointing chip-shot effort in a 1 v 1 situation with the goalie. Two shot attempts resulted from the rebound and finally the ball was cleared — though it looked very much like Reno's Jordan Murrell used his hand to bring the ball to the ground for clearance.
The first half ended and given the play on the field, Republic went into the locker rooms disappointed.
There were no subs at half and play resumed, though it seemed the Republic were lacking the focus of the first half as countless passes failed to find their targets and overall sloppiness abounded.
In the 50th minute, Kiffe made a creative run up the heart of Reno's defense and put a shot on frame that certainly gave hope for an equalizer but did not deliver. Two Reno players went to the ground in agony after another sustained offensive attack by the Republic and the fans made it known that they were less than pleased.
In the 54th minute, Chris Christian drew a yellow card for a clear body foul — though his swipe at the Ref's card could have had him seeing red. His card will result in him joining Hall in sitting out Wednesday’s game against Swope Parl.
The 58th minute saw Tyler Blackwood fail to finish a Kiffe cross from just outside of the top of the box with an open frame of goal.
The 60th minute saw both clubs bring in reinforcements and then again in the 68th minute.
The last gasp for Sacramento to get an equalizer came from goalkeeper Evan Newton in the final minutes. Alas it was all for naught as the Republic saw their 6 game unbeaten streak end at home to their budding rivals from the Sierras.
The Republic ended up with 58% of the game's possession but again came up short because of a slight lapse in defensive marking and an inability to finish easy chances. Reno was statistically the more aggressive team, as they held the advantage in balls won in the air as well as 50/50 challenge balls. Corners drawn in this one were dead even at 6 a piece, while the Republic were “victorious” in cards earned with a margin of 4-1 — all yellow.
Hopefully this lost chance at moving up a spot in the Western Conference will Republic to take Wednesday's challengers to the woodshed rather than squander what should have been at least a point.
What are your thoughts on Republic’s loss to Reno? Let us know in the comments below.