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1-0 loss to RailHawks hurts Silverbacks' playoff chances

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Silverbacks came up short against the Carolina RailHawks Saturday night, losing 1-0 in front of 4,896 fans at Atlanta Silverbacks Park.

The first half was a struggle in the midfield between two sides that were being careful not to concede early goals. Very few scoring opportunities presented themselves for either team in the first half, with RailHawks midfielder Cory Elenio creating the visitors’ best chance by forcing Silverbacks goalkeeper Daniel Illyes into a diving save in the 29th minute.

The Silverbacks' (4-7-12, 19 points) best scoring opportunity of the opening half came in the 42nd minute when midfielder Borfor Carr picked out forward Horace James at the far post. The Central grad's headed effort crashed into the side netting with a diving Akira Fitzgerald just feet away.

Silverbacks midfielder Paulo Mendes created a pair of chances in the second half, but each time his shots were directed right at Fitzgerald. The RailHawks (8-7-7, 31 points) continued to press the hosts’ defense, and in the 66th minute, it paid off.

Forward Brian Ackley capitalized on a giveaway from Silverbacks defender Chris Klute and rifled a shot into the top corner past Illyes to make it 1-0. The Hungarian goalkeeper, who had two straight shutouts coming into Saturday’s action, had no chance on Ackley’s fast-paced shot.

Needing a victory to maintain pace in the race for a playoff spot, the Silverbacks were forced to push forward. Head Coach Brian Haynes made three second-half changes, introducing midfielder Danny Barrera and forwards Jahbari Willis, a Brookwood grad, and Reinaldo Navia. Navia and Barrera combined well on several occasions, one of which set up a key free kick opportunity for Mendes. The free kick flew just over, leaving a good chance begging.

The RailHawks defense stood tall, earning their second road win of the season in Atlanta.