LANSING, Mich. — There were two scenarios on the final day of the USL League One regular season that would give Forward Madison FC the final playoff spot.
The Flamingos took the direct route, beating Lansing Ignite FC 1-0 Saturday on J.C. Banks’ first-half goal and a strong defensive effort.
Forward Madison didn’t allow a shot on target until the 85th minute, when goalkeeper Ryan Coulter had to be quick with a dive to his left to palm away Rafael Mentzingen’s second effort from the top of the penalty area after Connor Tobin blocked the first.
The victory clinched the fourth seed in the USL League One Playoffs. A semifinal game at league champion North Texas SC is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday in Frisco, Texas.
Needing a victory of their own or to have Chattanooga Red Wolves SC fail to win later Saturday in their final game, the Flamingos (12-9-7) held on after Banks gave them the lead in the 43rd minute.
Carter Manley’s cross from the right side didn’t find a finish from a Forward Madison player. But when Don Smart put the ball back into the middle from the left, Banks was there to slide home his fifth goal of the season.
Lansing (12-6-10), which had already clinched a playoff spot, lost for the first time in its past 13 games and for only the second time in 14 home games this season.
Forward Madison had opportunities to add to its lead, none better than after Banks was taken down by Lansing’s Brandon Fricke in the penalty area in the 58th minute. But goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland guessed right with a dive to his left to stop Smart’s penalty kick.
Lansing had 68% of the possession, but Forward Madison was effective in denying good chances.
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The Flamingos were forced into an early substitution when forward Danny Tenorio suffered a right-leg injury on a 10th-minute tackle by Fricke in midfield. Tenorio, who missed the first two months of the season with a torn left meniscus, was replaced by Brian Bement.
Tenorio had a brace on his right leg and was on crutches after the game.
Forward Madison FC 1 0 — 1
Lansing Ignite FC 0 0 — 0
First half: FM — Banks (Smart), 43rd minute.
Saves: FM (Coulter) 1, L (Cleveland) 6.
Possession: FM .317, L .683. Shots-on goal: FM 17-7, L 9-1. Corner kicks: FM 4, L 2. Fouls: FM 17, L 12. Offsides: FM 1, L 3.
Yellow cards: N’For, L, 20th; Omsberg, FM, 31st; Fricke, L, 59th; Núñez, FM, 66th; Paulo Júnior, FM, 68th; Moshobane, L, 73rd; Díaz, FM, 81st; Williams, L, 87th; Leonard, FM, 90th+4. Att. — 2,412.
Forward Madison FC — Ryan Coulter; Carter Manley, Christian Díaz, Wyatt Omsberg, Connor Tobin; Eric Leonard, Don Smart, J.C. Banks, Josiel Núñez (Brandon Eaton, 86th), Paulo Júnior (Jiro Barriga Toyama, 82nd); Danny Tenorio (Brian Bement, 15th).
Lansing Igine FC — Stefan Cleveland; Brandon Fricke, Kevin Coiffic, Grant Stoneman (Rhys Williams, 80th); Nick Moon, Rafael Mentzingen, Xavier Gómez, Ivo Cerda (Kyle Carr, 61st), Tumi Moshobane; Elma N’For, Pato Botello Faz (Alex Bruce, 61st).