NCFC Forward Yamikani Chester controls the ball during the club's match against the Charlotte Independence at WakeMed Soccer Park on July 4, 2019. Chester scored NCFC's lone goal as the match ended in a 1-1 draw.

NCFC and the Charlotte Independence drew 1-1 on Independence Day with goals by midfielder Yamikani Chester for NCFC and forward Niki Jackson for Charlotte.

The home team was the more dominant side during the match and the clear favorites going into it sitting 14 points above Charlotte before kickoff. Despite the dominance all game NCFC struggled to finish the chances they created.

NCFC outshot Charlotte 19 to five but a nine-save day for Charlotte keeper Brandon Miller kept the home team from taking all three points. 10 of NCFC’s 19 shots found the target and 10 of them were inside the box. 

“In my mind we had chances to win the game,” NCFC head coach Dave Sarachan said. “We had several opportunities to get the second goal. The keeper makes a couple saves we missed a couple chances and I don’t recall them other than the breakaway and maybe a couple loose balls that they were as threatening in front of our goal.”

NCFC got off to a flying start scoring in the third minute. Left back Caleb Duvernay put in a solid cross to the front post which was flicked on and over the Independence keeper by forward Donovan Ewolo into the path of an onrushing Chester who headed the ball in from one yard out.

“Obviously we started really poorly,” said Charlotte Independence head coach Mike Jeffries. “I couldn’t give you a good reason for it. I won’t say gifted a goal but it was a pretty soft goal. I thought out guys did a really good job of maintaining composure and staying in the game.”

The lead only lasted 11 minutes however with the Independence equalizing in the 14th minute through Jackson. The goal was assisted by Enzo Martinez who spent two years in Cary as a member of the then Carolina Railhawks. 

“I’m disappointed in the way we allowed them that second goal,” Sarachan said. “It may have been offside but regardless we were to loose. It came from a throw in.” 

Tambakis was forced into action in the 41st minute to keep things level going into the half. Charlotte’s goalscorer Jackson found himself clean through on goal but the Greek keeper was equal to the striker’s efforts, saving the first shot with his legs and collecting the second into his chest.

The scores were level going into the half but NCFC looked the more likely of the two teams to score again in the first half, a trend that would continue into the second half.

NCFC came out firing at the start of the second half creating three clear cut scoring opportunities in the opening seven minutes of the half but they could not find the back of the net.

“We allowed them a little too much time and space in the first half,” Sarachan said. “I felt there were moments we could really step and press, and I think as a group we talked about picking our spots, but I think we didn’t pick enough.”

Sarachan went to his bench in the 75th minute, bringing in forward Robbie Kristo to replace Ewolo, who apart from his assist has struggled to get much going on the attack. Ewolo was decent on the press but struggled to hold the ball up and allow the midfielders to get into the attack, something Kristo specializes in.

NCFC had a few more chances to score late in the game but a combination of good goalkeeping by Miller and poor finishing prevented NCFC from finding a winner. 

“NCFC pushed the game pretty hard,” Jeffries said. “But we had some really good chances. Clearly the one at the end of the first half, we had a run through, we had some other pretty good half chances, we absorbed a lot of pressure.

With injuries beginning to rack up for NCFC the upcoming nine day break is a welcome respite for the players. The clubs next match will be on July 13th at Birmingham Legion.