It was a tale that’s become all too familiar for Forward Madison FC.
For the second time in as many matches, the Flamingos blew a late lead in the final minutes, this time for a 1-1 draw against North Texas SC Saturday night at Breese Stevens Field.
“I think the call was poor anyway. We won the ball fair and square,” FMFC head coach Carl Craig said of a decisive foul called on Flamingos forward Ryan Sierakowski’s tackle attempt.
The newly acquired Sierakowski said the call was tough but that the Flamingos shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place.
“It’s frustrating, but we can’t rely on that at the end of the game, so we need to put them away,” Sierakowski said.
The foul set up North Texas SC forward Thibaut Jacquel’s right-footed free kick past goalkeeper Phil Breno to the bottom-right corner of the net to knot it up at one early in second-half stoppage time. Craig said he recognized ahead of time the hole in his defense.
“As I was standing from there, I could see the gap that he hit...and that’s what he hit,” Craig said.
It nullified Sierakowski’s header from near the top of the goal box to the high center of the net to put the Flamingos up 1-0 in the 10th minute. Sierakowski said that he felt joy after experiencing the home crowd’s intensity as well as disappointment from the contest ending in a draw.
“I’m happy to be here. It’s a...club that has a great following,” Sierakowski said. “You can feel that energy. It felt amazing to feel that energy for me and for the club...it’s bittersweet that it didn’t end in a win.”
Craig said that Sierakowski might be the key to moving past these late game struggles.
“We’ve got to be able to get over that hump,” Craig said. “You’ve seen a difference-maker tonight...cool as a cucumber...that kid’s a scorer.”
The next match finds the Flamingos heading to face North Carolina FC at WakeMed Soccer Park August 25 at 6 p.m.