Silverbacks in first place after 1-0 win over Scorpions

ATLANTA — Danny Barrera poked a ball past San Antonio goalkeeper Pat Hannigan in the 86th minute Saturday, giving the Silverbacks a 1-0 win.

With a 3-2 win by Minnesota over Tampa Bay minutes after the final whistle, the victory moves Atlanta (4-2-1, 13 points) into first place in the NASL spring season midway through the schedule.

It’s a long way from last season, when the club sat near the bottom of the table.

“I’m proud of the guys,” Silverbacks coach Brian Haynes said. “It’s the kind of win that we had to pull off. We came up against a team that was going to sit with 8, 9, 10 players behind the ball, and it was difficult to score. But in the end we got the goal and the guys held strong, and a great defensive play by Martyn (Lancaster) at the end to stop a goal from scoring.”

Barrera’s score, his second of the year, came after a lot of missed chances from Atlanta, which completely dominated possession in the first half and still controlled it to a lesser degree in the second.

“(Central grad Borfor Carr) put in a good ball to (Kellen) Gulley,” Barrera said. “Gulley had a great turn in the box and took a strike on the ground. It basically ricocheted and I brought it down and ripped it far post.”

Grayson grad Eric Ati got the nod again Saturday in goal after keeping a clean sheet against Carolina last week in a 2-0 win. He wasn’t tested much by San Antonio (1-4-2, 5 points), which was outshot by Atlanta 14-4. But he recorded a save and stayed in position when needed.

“(San Antonio) had a couple of decent chances, but the guys in front of me played brilliantly,” Ati said. “I didn’t have much to do, so it was nice to keep the clean sheet.”

Lancaster kept a potential tying goal from getting to Ati just before the whistle in second-half stoppage time. After a couple of long serves into the box, Scorpions midfielder Jeff Jennings ripped a shot from about 25 yards out, and Lancaster stuck his foot out to deflect it away from danger and preserve the win.