OKLAHOMA CITY – OKC Energy FC recorded its first home victory in 670 days as Villyan Bijev’s goal proved the difference in a 1-0 victory against Sporting Kansas City II on Wednesday night at Taft Stadium. The win was Energy FC’s first on home turf since August 24, 2019 against Austin Bold FC.
Having finished all square when they met for the first time this season, Sporting threatened first in the rematch as a good run and slip pass by Tyler Freeman set up Rojay Smith for a shot that was parried away by OKC goalkeeper CJ Cochran. Energy FC’s first chance came in the 19th minute as Villyan Bijev’s turning shot from the top of the penalty area was saved by SKC’s Brooks Thompson, but the hosts got a big chance three minutes before halftime as Frank Lopez stole possession on a loose touch in SKC’s half only for Thompson to produce a brave save as he met the Cuban at the top of the penalty area.
The hosts were awarded a chance to take the lead in the 44th minute, however, as the ball caromed off an SKC arm in the penalty area resulting in a penalty kick. Bijev stepped up and was denied on his initial shot as Thompson got down well to the shot to the right corner, but Thompson wasn’t able to corral the rebound allowing Bijev to put Energy FC ahead with a lifted finish to the opposite corner.
Sporting had a chance to level just before the halftime break as a corner from the right found Petar Cuic at the back post for a downward header that Cochran opted to tip over the crossbar, but the hosts then buckled down defensively in the second half as they looked to hold their lead. SKC II’s Enoch Mushagalusa tried to open space with 18 minutes to go but saw his shot from the right side of the penalty area deflected behind for a corner kick by Tucker Stephenson, and from the ensuing set piece Freeman’s delivery from the right found Alljaz Dzankic at the back post for a header that was helped behind by a defender on the line.
Energy FC almost added a second moments later as Charlie Ward sent Lopez forward into the right channel for a chance that he lashed wide of the right post. With 14 minutes to go Aidan Daniels also went close for the hosts with a skipping shot from 30 yards that went just wide of the left upright before Lopez squandered a close-range chance after Conor Donovan’s header across goal from the left side of the penalty area, sending the ball wide of the right post.
Sporting looked to find an equalizer late as Mushagalusa had a shot blocked with nine minutes to go, while Smith created space for a shot from the right side of the penalty area that was parried away by Cochran in the 88th minute. OKC saw out the victory, however, to maintain its positive momentum.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Charlie Ward, OKC Energy FC – Ward put in a strong shift in midfield, completing 53 of 60 passes, winning 5 of 7 duels and recording nine recoveries to help his side earn victory on home turf.
OKC – Villyan Bijev 45+1’