Given Forward Madison FC’s position in a crowded race for a USL League One playoff spot, any loss is costly.
A 1-0 defeat to the Richmond Kickers on Saturday at Breese Stevens Field was especially painful because it dropped the Flamingos two spots in the standings.
After entering the weekend in fourth place, the final playoff position, Forward Madison ended Saturday in sixth because of a performance that was lacking in the finishing touches.
“We just didn’t have the urgency,” midfielder J.C. Banks said. “We talk about it but we didn’t bring it. We know we can play better than that.”
Daniel Jackson’s goal in the 69th minute, three minutes after entering the game as a substitute, was the difference.
Otherwise, the Flamingos had an advantage in the possession battle but couldn’t translate it into any success around the net.
Forward Madison outshot Richmond 11-4 but didn’t force goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald to make any saves. The closest the Flamingos came to scoring was in the 29th minute, when Oliver White hit the post from close range.
“You can outshoot them all you want, but if they’re not on frame it doesn’t really matter,” Forward Madison coach Daryl Shore said. “It was just one of those days. It wasn’t working for us.”
Richmond broke through the Forward Madison defense with the help of a fortunate bounce on a counterattack.
Forward Madison defender Christian Díaz got a touch on a ball in the defensive half but put it right in the path of Jackson.
Goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair sprinted out to try to beat Jackson to the ball and partially deflected it. But Jackson recovered and slotted the ball into the vacant net.
Forward Madison (8-8-4) spent the final 20 minutes in search of an equalizer but never made a dent in a strong Richmond back line.
“We didn’t have that final pass,” Banks said. “We didn’t penetrate enough. It was too slow moving it around.”
Shore said his team looked lethargic and put some of the blame on himself for a heavy week of practice.
In a scoreless first half, both defenses were let off the hook by the goalpost.
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A quick Richmond (6-9-3) counterattack from a Forward Madison corner kick in the 19th minute gave Joe Gallardo a long run up the left side. He shook off Díaz outside the area to go in 1-on-1 with St. Clair but struck the right post.
The goal frame was similarly unkind to Forward Madison’s White 10 minutes later. He was alone 2 yards in front of the goal for a cross from Díaz but had his redirection deflect off the right post and out of play.
Banks came close to breaking the scoreless deadlock for Forward Madison early in the second half off a free kick from 25 yards out. His right-footed drive caught the outside of the net, but referee Calin Radosav initially signaled for a goal after the ball somehow ended up inside the goal.
After consulting with a linesman, however, the referee changed his call.
Forward Madison fell to 5-3-2 at home and saw its season-high winning streak end at three games.
“It stings,” Shore said. “This is our third loss at home, which is unacceptable.”
Richmond Kickers 0 1 — 1
Forward Madison FC 0 0 — 0
Second half: R — Jackson, 69th minute.
Saves: R (Fitzgerald) 0, FM (St. Clair) 1.
Possession: R .444, FM .556. Shots-on goal: R 4-2, FM 11-0. Corner kicks: R 0, FM 2. Fouls: R 13, FM 17. Offsides: R 3, FM 1.
Yellow cards: Ackwei, R, 48th; Troyer, R, 76th; Bement, FM, 81st; Leonard, FM, 84th. Att. — 4,510.
Richmond Kickers — Akira Fitzgerald; Ivan Magalhaes, Conor Shanosky, Elijah Lockaby, Wahab Ackwei; Joshua Hughes, Matthew Bolduc (Maximiliano Rodríguez, 74th), Braeden Troyer, Mutaya Mwape (Scott Thomsen, 60th); Joe Gallardo, Dennis Chin (Daniel Jackson, 66th).
Forward Madison FC — Dayne St. Clair; Jiro Barriga Toyama (Louis Bennett, 77th), Shaun Russell, Connor Tobin, Christian Díaz; Eric Leonard, Josiel Núñez, J.C. Banks; Paulo Júnior (Danny Tenorio, 86th), Oliver White (Brian Bement, 68th), Don Smart.