In a battle of two teams trending in opposite directions, both sides held true to form as the red-hot Richmond Kickers defeated South Georgia Tormenta FC 4-1 at Erk Russell Park in Statesboro on Saturday night.
The hosts got off to a flying start just five minutes in when Mikie Rowe curled home a gorgeous free kick that clanged off the underside of the bar and in, leaving Richmond goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald with no chance. But Tormenta’s lead wouldn’t last long, with the visitors finding an equalizer through Dennis Chin six minutes later.
A long-range rocket from Joe Gallardo quickly followed, and Chin added another before halftime to put the Kickers in the driver’s seat. The two sides spent most of the second half locked in a stalemate until Gallardo conjured up a moment of individual brilliance, slaloming between multiple Tormenta defenders and blazing a shot past Pablo Jara to seal the three points for Richmond.
The loss stretches the winless run in South Georgia to seven games, a streak that has seen Tormenta fall below the playoff line. The club still has time to turn things around with five games remaining, but needs to start picking up points in a hurry to salvage its postseason chances. Next week’s trip to Forward Madison, with whom Tormenta is tied on 32 points, is a must-win.
On the other hand, Richmond has won four of its last six games and risen from near the foot of the League One table to the fringe of the postseason race. The Kickers sit seven points adrift of the playoff places, but have two games in hand on many of the teams they’re chasing. The Virginia club now returns home with plenty of momentum to host Greenville Triumph next Saturday night.