SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Reno 1868 FC’s Aidan Apodaca scored in the third minute of stoppage time to earn the visitors a 3-3 draw with Sacramento Republic FC on Saturday night at Papa Murphy’s Park in a contest that went full tilt from start to finish and saw Reno hold onto first place in the Group A standings at the end of the night.
While the side had created chances after going behind with 17 minutes to go, time was running out on Reno when its moment finally arrived. Brent Richards sent an angled ball into the penalty area from the right, and after a Republic FC defender was unable to make a clearing header, Apodaca challenged for the second ball. After controlling on his chest, he quickly took a touch to his right to create space for a shot and fired home, sending the visitors into celebrations as they salvaged their first point of the season against their Northern California rivals.
Reno had opened the game with a bang as well, taking the lead in just the second minute. Off a free kick from the left, Christiano Francois delivered an arcing cross into the penalty area that was met by a header from Foster Langsdorf at the top of the penalty area that found the left corner of the net.
Just as quickly, Sacramento responded as Kharlton Belmar broke down the right flank and delivered a perfect cross for Sam Werner, who headed home unmarked in the center of the penalty area into the right corner to make it all square.
The sides then began to exchange chances as Reno’s Richards fired a scissor kick off a corner over the crossbar in the 19th minute, and moments later Belmar forced a save from Reno goalkeeper Ben Beaury that saw Beaury get just enough on the ball to send it wide of the right post. Reno threatened again as Kevin Partida missed a big chance in the 22nd minute, sending his finish well over the bar from eight yards after a good low cross by Langsdorf from the right side of the penalty area.
That miss would loom even larger 10 minutes later as Sacramento hit the front for the first time. A ball upfield by Villjyan Bijev was controlled nicely by Kharlton Belmar, who turned to his left and sent a good pass into the path of Dariusz Formella in space. The Polish forward broke forward into the penalty area and fired low into the right corner to up the hosts ahead.
Reno almost answered six minutes before halftime as Tucker Bone managed to get past his defender in the right side of the penalty area, but his shot from a narrow angle with the outside of his right boot glanced off the face of the crossbar and away to safety.
Sacramento held its lead until halftime, and Formella almost added his second of the night early in the second half as his shot from the right side of the penalty area was saved by Beaury. The Reno goalkeeper also made a key save 10 minutes into the second half as Bijev turned his marker well 20 yards from goal and fired a shot to the right corner that was parried to safety.
1868 FC got back on level terms midway through the second half, however, as Partida wove into the right side of the penalty area and was eventually brought down by Sacramento’s Shannon Gomez, resulting in a penalty kick. Partida stepped up and shot low to the left corner just out of the reach of Republic FC goalkeeper Rafael Diaz.
It didn’t take long for Sacramento to respond, however, as after a corner kick from the right fell loose in the penalty area Cameron Iwasa calmly controlled possession and laid a pass back to Jaime Villarreal. The midfielder struck his shot from 20 yards through a crowd in the area, but it arrowed into the bottom-left corner of the net giving Beaury little chance to react.
Reno almost hit back quickly again as Richards rose to head a corner by Sergio Rivas toward the right corner of the net, only for Gomez to make a headed clearance off the line. The visitors continued to press and Apodaca almost found an equalizer with eight minutes to go as his shot from a tight angle squeezed through the legs of Diaz but was cleared away by Jordan McCrary before it could find the net.
In the third minute of stoppage time, however, Apodaca applied the decisive moment for the visitors to end the game all square and keep 1868 FC on top of the Group A standings.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Kharlton Belmar, Sacramento Republic FC – Belmar recorded two assists and had three shots and four key passes overall while completing 28 of 38 passes in a strong attacking display.