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Armada stay winless on the road

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Armada FC mounted a series of impressive opportunities against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers on Wednesday night at Lockhart Stadium, but it wasn't enough to get the Armada on the scoreboard as they fell 2-0.

Armada goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo finished with six saves, while defender Fabricio Ortiz had an impressive defensive showing and was named the Farah & Farah Man of the Match.

Despite the flair of the Strikers offense, Armada FC controlled the pace of the Coastal Cup clash. The Strikers had their hands full guarding the intense pressure that the Armada dished out.

In only their second meeting of the year, the Armada (3W-2D-8L NASL Fall, 6-5-12 Combined) and Fort Lauderdale (5-5-2, 8-7-7) took to a wet rain soaked pitch. The Armada maintained possession for the majority of the opening minutes, conceding only a series of throw-ins. However, Jacksonville was tested within the five minutes when Gallardo was forced to make a sprawling tip over the top of goal.

In a feat of superb defending, a save by Gallardo and consecutive blocks by Lucas Rodriguez and Matt Bahner on what was a sure goal in the 10th minute from a driving Striker James Marcelin may well have been the highlight of the entire match. 
The scoring opened in the 17th minute when the Armada could not to prevent a striking Marlon Freitas, who launched a shot from 20 yards out into the net behind a diving Gallardo.

Despite excellent scoring opportunities from Shawn Nicklaw and Alhassane Keita, the Armada continued to find it hard to penetrate the staunch Striker defense with maybe the best opportunity coming in the 20th minute from Pascal Millien drove down the left flank and curled a ball into side of the net.

The Strikers sustained their signature pressure when Stefano Pinho drove through a slippery Armada defense and fired a shot just high, helping the Armada stay within one goal in the 32nd minute.

The Armada appeared to approach the second with a bit more grit. Both teams jumped out firing, but in the 51st minute, a rebound came straight to Jaime Castrillon, who launched a shot at Fort Lauderdale goalkeeper Josh Ford, forcing a diving save.

The arrival of Jemal Johnson and Akeil Barrett in 65th minute substitutions appeared to lift the Armada, picking up the pace of the match and almost instantaneously creating multiple scoring attempts and putting Ford on his feet.

Marcelin capped off the scoring in a final 90th minute with a strike through Gallardo legs to seal the 2-0 final for the home side.

Jacksonville will return to action at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26 when it hosts the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Community First Park next Saturday Sept. 26. The Armada will host a tribute to Jacksonville's original NASL club, the Tea Men, and also celebrate Hispanic Heritage Night.