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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane Velocity unable to find late winner, draw with Lexington SC 1-1

By Ethan Myers The Spokesman-Review

Despite dominating possession and creating several prime scoring opportunities throughout the match, the Spokane Velocity walked away Sunday night with another draw against Lexington SC.

Coming off a 4-1 loss to the Union Omaha, the Velocity looked to get back on track against one of USL League One’s weaker opponents. But strong goalkeeping from Lexington and missed chances from Spokane led to a 1-1 finish, the second tie in as many months between the two clubs.

The Velocity attacked early, prompting a Luis Gil shot on goal in the first minute, followed by a Josh Dolling shot from inside the box just five minutes later.

Despite the early aggression from Spokane, Lexington found the back of the net first.

Off a counterattack in the 27th minute, Lexington forward Nico Brown collected a pass inside the box, took a few dribbles and hesitated before turning to his left and ripping a shot with his left foot.

The ball passed the outstretched hands of Spokane goalkeeper Carlos Merancio and hit the underside of the crossbar, giving Lexington a 1-0 lead.

The two clubs went back and forth in their attacks throughout the half. In one three-minute sequence, impressive goalkeeping by Merancio and Lexington goalkeeper Amal Knight prevented goals on three separate opportunities.

The Velocity continued to create chances, finishing with nine shots in the first half, but sloppy passing and poor finishing led to a scoreless first 45 minutes. Lexington took its 1-0 lead into half.

After the break, Spokane continued to use its possession advantage – over 65% in the match – to relentlessly attack the Lexington defense.

In the 48th minute, newly signed midfielder Masango Akale, who was quick and decisive in his attacks all match, cut through the defense and into the box before dropping a pass off to a sliding Dolling. The Spokane forward scored to level the match at 1-1.

The opportunities kept coming for the Velocity, but converting them into goals proved to be a challenge – a recurring theme for the Spokane offense this year.

In the 75th minute, Derek Waldeck put a well-placed cross past the defense and at the feet of Kimarni Smith, but his sliding shot ricocheted off the crossbar.

Spokane’s defense did a proficient job at stopping Lexington’s speedy attackers in the second half, thanks in part to a number of aggressive tackles in the box by Spokane defender Ahmed Longmire in crucial moments.

Just as the match appeared headed for a draw, Lexington defender Jorge Corrales received his second yellow card after a hard foul on Dolling in the 83rd minute, giving Spokane an advantage for the remaining seven minutes plus over eight minutes of extra time.

The Velocity made concerted efforts to work it into the box with Lexington down a man, but the opportunities were quelled by strong goalkeeping or offsides.

Velocity coach Leigh Veidman was still pleased with his players’ effort.

“Tonight showed the character of the players to put in arguably our best overall team performance of year,” Veidman said.

Lexington, despite having an early lead, played for the draw at the end, and the final whistle blew just as Spokane looked for a finishing blow.

Spokane finished with 17 shots to Lexington’s six. Seven of the Velocity’s shots were on goal while 10 came from inside the box.

The draw pushes Spokane to 3-3-2 in USL League One, tied for eighth overall with the Northern Colorado Hailstorm in the standings.

Lexington, sitting at 1-4-3, remains 11th.

The Velocity will visit the Hailstorm in Windsor, Colorado, on Saturday, looking for its first win against a league opponent in over a month. The match will be another group stage match in the ongoing Jagermeister Cup.