BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Neco Brett had a goal and assist as Birmingham Legion FC struck twice in the final 15 minutes to earn a 3-1 victory against Austin Bold FC at BBVA Field that moved Birmingham into first place in the USL Championship’s Central Division following Louisville City FC’s loss to Memphis 901 FC on Wednesday night.
It took less than a minute for the hosts to threaten as a good passing combination on the right released Jonathan Dean into space on the flank, and he cut back a cross to Prosper Kasim as he arrived near the top of the penalty area for a clear first-time shot that slid wide of the left post. Five minutes later, Brett also got a clear look from the top of the penalty area, but Austin goalkeeper Elliot Panicco made a good save to turn the effort wide of the left post.
Legion FC broke through in the 15th minute as Kasim was given time to deliver a cross from the right and four Alex Crognale for a deft header past Panicco as he came off his line trying to punch clear. But Austin replied on its first serious chance as in the 23rd minute Juan Pablo Torres played Nathaniel Adamolekun in behind the Birmingham defense on the right and the local standout finish calmly finished into the left corner of the net from just outside the six-yard area.
The game remained level into the second half as chances began to become harder to come by, but in the 64th minute the visitors turned over possession through Omar Gordon in the left channel and after he held off a defender entering the penalty area the Jamaican laid a pass back to Omar Ciss, whose first-time shot to the bottom-left corner of the net was well saved by Legion FC’s Trevor Spangenberg.
Legion FC regained the lead with 15 minutes to go, however, as Brett received possession 25 yards from goal and played a give-and-go with JJ Williams inside the penalty area before squeezing home a finish past Austin substitute goalkeeper Hugo Fauroux, who had come on at halftime following an injury to Panicco, for his 17th goal of the season.
Brett soon added an assist to his goal as Birmingham put the game away with eight minutes to go after Bruno Lapa stole possession in the Austin half, quickly found the Jamaican as they broke forward for a two-on-one and received a return pass from Brett as he looped to the right before shooting low to the left corner.
Austin almost pulled a goal back three minutes later as Beto Avila struck a first-time shot from the right side of the penalty area that Spangenberg got down to save, but the hosts saw out the remaining minutes to secure all three points and top spot in the Central Division with three games remaining.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Alex Crognale, Birmingham Legion FC – Crognale opened the scoring for the hosts and defensively was excellent, winning 7 of 7 duels and 3 of 3 aerials and recording two interceptions and two tackles while completing 48 of 60 passes.
BHM – Alex Crognale (Prosper Kasim) 15’
ATX – Nathanial Adamolekun (Juan Pablo Torres) 23’
BHM – Neco Brett (JJ Williams) 75’
BHM – Bruno Lapa (Neco Brett) 81’