Orlando City B fell on the road to FC Cincinnati, 1-0, in front of a record crowd of 24,376 at Nippert Stadium. Coupled with a Wilmington Hammerheads draw, OCB now finds itself in the final playoff spot, just one point ahead of the Hammerheads heading into the final game of the season.
Looking to wrap up a playoff spot with a win, OCB started off in an attacking mode. The Lions found themselves threatening Cincinnati within the first five minutes but were unable to find the back of the net. The first great chance came int the 11th minute.
After a bad giveaway found Harrison Heath, the midfielder sent an early touch forward for the streaking Michael Cox. The striker found himself behind the defense and headed toward goal. However, his shot from just inside the box was blocked by a sliding Harrison Delbridge.
OCB again nearly got on the board in the 18th minute. A Pierre Da Silva cross should've been cleared by Delbridge but the failed attempt fell right to Cox. But the striker's shot was too close to Cincinnati goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt, who dove to his left and pushed the shot wide of goal.
The game really opened up as the first half hour elapsed, with both teams seeing good chances at breaking the deadlock.
FC Cincinnati came close to taking the lead in the 54th minute, but the hosts were denied by OCB goalkeeper Mark Ridgers. The Cincinnati corner went to the back post, where Delbridge headed to the top of the six. Striker Sean Okoli got his foot to it, directing it toward the far post. On its way, Austin Berry got a touch on it but Ridgers came flying across to make the diving save and kept the home team off the board.
OCB should've opened the scoring in the 71st minute, when Heath sent a ball sailing toward Cox at the far post. The striker's deft first touch laid it off for an oncoming Lewis Neal, who connected with the ball with nobody but Hildebrandt between him and the goal. But the captain's volley went just wide of the frame and the game remained scoreless.
Just when it appeared OCB might secure a road point, FC Cincinnati finally broke through in the 81st minute. Eric Stevenson received the ball on the right and sent a long ball toward goal. At the top of the six, Casey Townsend was able to get his head on it, redirecting the ball past Ridgers and into the OCB net for the game's only goal. OCB attempted to net a late equalizer but the Lions were unable to find the net and fell to FC Cincinnati, 1-0.
Despite the bad result, OCB was a part of history during the loss. FC Cincinnati drew an eyebrow-raising 24,376 fans to Nippert Stadium to witness their team's final home game of their inaugural season. The attendance brought the club to 250,000 for all USL games and 300,000 for all games during the year -- an outstanding accomplishment for a USL team.
OCB's struggles continue with the loss in Cincinnati. The young Lions are now winless in their last eight games, having lost seven of those eight, and five straight. They currently sit just one point ahead of the Wilmington Hammerheads for the eighth and final playoff spot in the USL's Eastern Conference. The Lions will end the season next Sunday afternoon when they travel to Pennsylvania to take on the Bethlehem Steel.
Starting XI: Ridgers; Turner, Hayden, Donovan, McFadden; Heath, Neal (c), Mendoza (Obekop, 83'), Ribeiro, Da Silva; Cox
Unused Subs: Fenlason, D. Garcia, A. Garcia, Laryea, Smith
Goals: FCC - Townsend (81')
Yellow Cards: FCC - Stevenson (48'), Delbridge (52'), McMahon (62'), Townsend (91')