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Spencer Rises to Occasion for Louisville

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 07/30/17, 11:44AM EDT


Substitute made instant impact to thrill crowd of 10,017 at Slugger Field

Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – When Louisville City FC Head Coach James O’Connor sent on Luke Spencer with 20 minutes to go, his side level in front of 10,017 fans against the New York Red Bulls II at Slugger Field, he was hoping the powerful forward would make a difference.

Approximately 40 seconds later, Spencer provided the goal that earned Louisville a 2-1 victory, and sent home the second-biggest crowd of the season happy with the side still firmly in contention at the top of the USL Eastern Conference.

“You’re always hoping,” said O’Connor of the substitution. “Luke could — no exaggeration — Luke could probably jump up and head that Exit sign up there. When you’ve got athleticism like that, it’s get him on there.”

Spencer rose to head home Paolo DelPiccolo’s corner from the right, beating Red Bulls II goalkeeper Evan Louro to the near-post cross by a fraction of a second to find the back of the net. His second goal in as many games after tallying in last Saturday’s victory against Saint Louis FC, Spencer was delighted to have made the difference.

“It’s an impressive win,” said Spencer. “We didn’t play as well as we like, but when you don’t play as well as you like and you’re able to pull off the win, it’s a good day because you can learn from a win.”

Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC

Louisville had difficulties in part thanks to the pressure the Red Bulls II were able to put on the hosts throughout the game, which disrupted City’s passing rhythm and saw the visitors give as good as they got for much of the contest. Despite being without midfield mainstays Arun Basuljevic and Dan Metzger, New York was aggressive throughout, and rewarded when Stefano Bonomo found the bottom-left corner with a good finish in the 58th minute that cancelled out Paco Craig’s first-half goal.

“[We’re] obviously delighted to beat a very talented New York team,” said O’Connor. “You can see they’ve got tremendous quality and an excellent coach — really great, John [Wolyniec] — as well. Just really, really pleased. Massive, massive three points for us.”

Louisville’s ability to capitalize on set pieces proved the difference on the night, though, with Craig’s goal having also come from a free kick that was beautifully served in by Oscar Jimenez for the fullback’s second assist of the season.

City’s victory, along with the Charlotte Independence’s 4-0 win against Bethlehem Steel FC on Saturday night, now sets up a massive clash next Saturday in North Carolina, where the second-place Independence and third-place Louisville will square off at the Sportsplex at Matthews. With three points separating the top four teams in the Eastern Conference, the second meeting of the season between the club’s is a critical one.

“It’ll be a very tough game for us,” said O’Connor. “They’ve moved to a new stadium. It’s a bigger pitch, which seem to have suited them. It should suit us as well. It’ll be a really good game, to be honest. Again, Mike [Jeffries is] a good coach. They’ve got good players. They play the correct way. It’ll be an exciting game but it’ll obviously be a very tough one because they’re obviously having a very strong season themselves. But we’re looking forward to it.”

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