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Lions tie Mercer County Christian in game at Valley Park

October 13, 2018

Cole Young challenges Shay Basham for the ball when Teays Valley Lions take on Mercer County Christian at Valley Park.

This week’s game was the Teays Valley homecoming fixture against Mercer County Christian School’s Cavaliers, which was played on the new Astroturf field in Valley Park in Hurricane.

This is the first game I’ve seen on this field and, while it is beautifully laid out and the facilities are excellent, I thought the artificial surface tended to kill some of the bounce on the ball and several players seemed to slip and fall while running.

Mercer kicked off and within the first minute Steven Stuart in the Teays Valley goal got a taste of the action as he made an easy save from Jamison Mullins, the Mercer No. 12.

A minute later it was the Lions who were on the attack as Misha Saidi, the Teays Valley Homecoming King, raced up the right flank and launched a shot from a very tight angle that narrowly missed the left side of the goal.

The action was end to end in the first 10 minutes with Teays Valley winning many of the midfield balls but losing out on the passing. Saidi, Cole Young and Micah Gillespie all had shots on the Cavaliers goal that went wide or were easily saved.

Sixteen minutes into the game, Sydney Schliesser won a tackle in midfield and fired a cross field pass to Misha Saidi who shot only to see the ball deflected out for a corner. Cole Young took the kick, which the Cavaliers’ keeper put out for another corner.

Misha Saidi made no mistake with the penalty kick to give the home side a one goal lead.

Mercer came back strongly and had a throw in on 17 minutes that a Lions defender put out for a corner but the resulting kick was too long and passed over the crowded penalty area.

From the resulting throw Cole Young ran up the right wing but lost the ball in a tackle. He seemed to think he’d been fouled and voiced his protest only to be awarded a yellow card for his trouble.

The Lions were doing most of the attacking through Gillespie, Young and Saidi but, in the thirty-third minute a ball over the top of the home team’s defense found Joseph Preservati free for the Cavaliers with only Steven Stuart, the TVCS keeper to beat.

As Preservati shaped to shoot however, Stuart bravely ran out to dive and smother the ball at his feet.

As the game wore on both teams were shooting when they saw an opening but most of the attempts were off target and neither keeper was called on to make a proper save.

Teays Valley were applying most of the pressure now but with just two minutes to go to half time Eric Boothe for Mercer found Shaye Basham who ran straight at goal only for Steven Stuart to once again dive at his feet and grab the ball.

The half ended with the score Teays Valley 1 – Mercer 0.

The Lions kicked off the second half, which began much as the first one had finished, although the visitors were starting to win more of the midfield balls as the Lions defense tired. Cole Young had two early attempts saved by the Cavaliers keeper while Micah Gillespie tried three long range shots that were either blocked or went wide.

At the other end Triston Yoak blocked shots from Devin Shrewsbury and Jamison Mullins while Steven Stuart made several more saves.

A long ball out of defense by Mercer in the 17th minute almost cleared the Teays Valley back line but Triston Yoak was adjudged to have stopped it with his hand and he too received a yellow card.

It was a very hot day and halfway through the second half, Misha Saidi, who had tirelessly led the Lions offense, was racing for a through ball when he suddenly pulled up short and collapsed with severe cramp in his calf muscle. There was a lengthy stoppage as he received treatment before having to leave the field.

Saidi’s absence seemed to enliven the Mercer attackers and they looked the stronger side for the next fifteen minutes, with several attempts on goal that either went wide or were saved by the home team’s defense. They were unable to find the net however and it looked as if the Lions would chalk up a win but, with just 39 seconds left on the clock, the visitors mounted one last attack.

The ball was played down the right wing and crossed into the centre where a Cavaliers player was tackled by a home team defender. The collision looked innocuous to those watching from the bleachers but the Mercer player went down very dramatically and the referee awarded a free kick in the centre of the field, just outside the penalty area.

The kick was taken by Tyler Hollins who gave Stuart in the Lions’ goal no chance as he curled the ball around the TVCS’ wall and into the right corner of the net to tie the game at 1-1.

That was the final score. It was a good game to watch, the teams were fairly evenly matched and on the whole it was a fair reflection of the effort put in by the two sets of players on a very hot day on an unfamiliar surface.

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