TUCSON, Ariz. — Forward Madison FC didn't get the victory that would have clinched a USL League One playoff spot, but a 1-1 draw Friday at FC Tucson put the heat on the only team that can catch the Flamingos.
Don Smart's goal on a penalty kick in first-half stoppage time was the equalizer for Forward Madison after Jordan Jones put the hosts ahead in the 31st minute.
The result left Forward Madison (11-9-7) four points ahead of Chattanooga Red Wolves SC for fourth place. The Flamingos have one game to play, at Lansing Ignite FC on Oct. 5; Chattanooga needs to win both of its remaining contests and have Lansing defeat or tie Forward Madison to keep the Flamingos from taking the fourth and final playoff spot.
Forward Madison wasn't far from a go-ahead goal early in the second half Friday. Tucson goalkeeper Carlos Merancio Valdez made a save on Danny Tenorio's point-blank try in the 46th minute.
Three minutes later, Flamingos midfielder J.C. Banks had an open header from 8 yards out sail over the crossbar.
Merancio Valdez and Forward Madison goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre each made three saves.
A stretch of first-half pressure led to a Jones free header from 6 yards out that gave Tucson (8-10-9) the lead.
With 39 points, Forward Madison (11-9-6) is fourth in the standings (one point out of third place) and increased its lead on fifth-place Chattanooga to three. The Flamingos have two-regular-season games remaining — at sixth-place FC Tuscon on Friday and at second-place Lansing on Oct. 5.
Flamingos defender Connor Tobin blocked a clear shot from Jamael Cox, but Tucson recovered to find another opening. Jose Carlos Terrón lobbed a cross from the left side that found Jones wide open in front.
Forward Madison made a lot out of a little just before halftime to draw level.
Sylvestre took a free kick from his own end that Josiel Núñez headed into the left side of the penalty area. J.C. Banks gave chase and was pushed over by Tucson captain Kyle Venter; referee Marco Vega pointed for a penalty.
You have free articles remaining.
Smart converted from the spot for his eighth goal of the season and Forward Madison's first penalty conversion.
The Flamingos finished 2-0-1 this season against FC Tucson. They won 2-1 on June 15 and 1-0 on Aug. 3, both at Breese Stevens Field.
Forward Madison FC 1 0 — 1
FC Tucson 1 0 — 1
First half: T — Jones (Terrón), 31st minute. FM — Smart, penalty kick, 45th+3.
Saves: FM (Sylvestre) 3, T (Merancio Valdez) 3.
Possession: FM .477, T .523. Shots-on goal: FM 17-4, T 9-4. Corner kicks: FM 3, T 4. Fouls: FM 9, T 14. Offsides: V 5, H 2.
Yellow cards: Batista, T, 66th; Tobin, FM, 80th. Att. — x.
Forward Madison FC — Brian Sylvestre; Carter Manley, Christian Díaz, Connor Tobin, Shaun Russell; Eric Leonard, Don Smart, J.C. Banks; Josiel Núñez (Brandon Eaton, 86th), Paulo Júnior; Danny Tenorio (Brian Bement, 74th).
FC Tucson — Carlos Merancio Valdez; Luke Hauswirth, Lamar Batista, Kyle Venter, Kody Wakasa; Erik Virgen, Jamael Cox, Karsten Hanlin, Jose Carlos Terrón (Guillermo Delgado, 76th); Jordan Jones, Ilijah Paul (Devyn Jambga, 55th).