Voltage shocked by late goal, fall to Serbs 2-1

MANCHESTER - Liam Gilbert and the Vermont Voltage had the sweet taste of victory on the tip of their tongues.

Gilbert, who had just put the ball in the back of the East Coast United Serbs' net, turned and started to run towards the sidelines at Applejack Field. 2-1 to the good guys with just over 10 minutes left.

But the joy was quickly wiped away. As Gilbert made his run to celebrate, the linesman stood stoically with his flag raised. He flagged Gilbert for being offside. The Serbs would pounce minutes later, finishing off a quick counter attack to take a 2-1 lead that turned into a 2-1 win.

"Words can't describe the feeling," Gilbert said. "You work so hard and think you have the lead, then you blink twice and they stuck the ball in the back of the net."

It was a cruel call on Gilbert, who had been working tirelessly throughout the second half to find his team the winner. In the buildup to the play, Gilbert smartly kept himself onside and waited until Bo Vuckovic played a pass to him. When the ball came, Gilbert darted in front of the defense. Now 1-on-1 with the keeper, Gilbert let his first shot go.

It deflected off of the keeper and proceeded to bounce off of another defender. Gilbert, still moving forward with his momentum, stuck a foot out to get the ball back. Back in possession, and with a gaping net in front of him, Gilbert slotted home.

But it was not meant to be. The linesman had made his decision. Debate ensued. The referee conferred with his linesman, eventually emerging from the huddle and verifying the goal would be disallowed.

"I thought I was holding the line, waiting for the ball to be played in," Gilbert said. "The ball fell nicely to me. I was already celebrating, I didn't think I did anything wrong"

The call would come back to bite the Voltage shortly after.

With 10 minutes left in the game, the Serbs played out a quick counter attack. Moving through the middle, Dejan Tolmac played a neat pass into Radoslav Bojovic. Bojovic went right, cut back left, and put the ball past Chris Dunham. It was now 2-1 to the bad guys.

"We didn't use our chances. We had a couple of breakaways, but then you get punished," Vuckovic said.

It was a tough final result for the Voltage, who took the lead during the first half.

Over the first 45 minutes the Voltage looked the more dangerous of the two sides. In the opening minutes of play, Bojidar Jelovac was pulled down just outside the Serbs' penalty area, drawing a free kick in a dangerous position. Vuckovic took the kick, but put it into the wall.

The first goal came after 25 minutes. Gilbert, making a run down the left wing, hit a low cross into the penalty area. Daniel Josepher made a dummy run over the ball, allowing it to slip past him and into the path of Jelovac. Jelovac made no mistake from six yards out, and put the ball into the net to give the Voltage a 1-0 lead.

Shortly after, Dunham had to come up with a nifty save to keep Milan Terzic off the score sheet. Dunham, who replaced Tyler Blais after Blais picked up an injury during the game, deflected Terzic's rocket out for a corner.

The Serbs would find an equalizer five minutes before the half. Tolmac was once again in the middle of things, this time getting dragged down in the penalty area by two Voltage players. The referee granted the Serbs a penalty kick, and Tolmac stepped up and hit it low and to the left to make it a 1-1 game.

At the start of the second half, Vuckovic looked to have played in a beautiful pass for Josepher. But just as soon as Josepher slotted the ball home, the linesman raised his flag for an offside call.

From there, the game was there for whoever wanted to take it. Both the Voltage and the Serbs had chances to take the lead, but neither side was able to capitalize.

That is when the second offside call happened. After a lull in the game saw neither side produce a clear chance, Vuckovic and Gilbert thought they had finally made the perfect chance.

"We had two goals waived off. The referee made the call and that's what happens," Vuckovic said.

The Voltage should have had another goal moments after. Gilbert managed to get free on the left wing. Cutting in towards the box, he chipped the ball up to Jelovac, who was unmarked inside the area. But what should have been a golden opportunity turned into a nightmare for Jelovac, whose header went over the crossbar and out of play.

After the Serbs made it 2-1, the Voltage had one more shot at an equalizer.

Jelovac let a screamer go towards the Serbs' goal. The ball deflected off the keeper, and into the path of Kyle O'Brien. O'Brien let go of another shot, but again the goalie was able to make the save.

The loss wraps up the 2013 season for the Voltage, who finished 3rd in the Premier Developmental League.


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