Late goal gives Roughnecks draw
TULSA– The Tulsa Roughnecks FC used some late-match heroics from newcomer Isaac Diaz to gain a 1-1 draw with Fresno FC Saturday night at ONEOK Field. 

In the 90th minute, Diaz took a pass from Nemanja Vukovic and delivered his first goal as a member of the Roughnecks to give Tulsa a 1-1 draw with the Foxes.

With the result, the Roughnecks remained unbeaten in three home matches under new head coach Michael Nsien. For the season, TRFC now has 13 points from a 1-9-10 record.

The draw knocked Fresno from the eighth and final playoff spot in the USL’s Western Conference. The Foxes now have 30 points and a 7-7-9 record.

The first half produced an entertaining 45 minutes, but no goals.  Both teams had shots carom off the crossbar within one minute of each other.

In the 15th minute, Josh Morton headed a free kick cross from Vukovic on target, but Fresno keeper Kyle Reynish tipped the shot off the bar. Morton’s follow up header was grabbed by Reynish.

Less than a minute later, Christian Chaney fired a shot off the bar after a beautiful feed from Juan Pablo Caffa.

The best chance of the first half came from the Roughnecks in the 29th minute. Michael Gamble saved a ball on the end line and delivered a perfect cross to Joaquin Rivas in front of goal, but Reynish came up big to deny the Tulsa midfielder his ninth goal of the season.

In the 43rd minute, Reynish made his final save of the half when he denied Gamble from close range.

The Roughnecks continued to attack after the halftime break, but it was Fresno who found the back of the net first, courtesy of an own goal in the 63rd minute.

A pass from Caffa found Danny Barrera in the box, but his shot was saved by an on-rushing Cerda. Unfortunately for the Roughnecks, the rebound deflected off Brandon Servania and bounced into the net to give Fresno the 1-0 lead.

After the goal, Fresno looked likely to add a second as Chaney came close twice, and Jemal Johnson had a shot go just wide.

Over the final minutes, the Roughnecks continued to push forward and looked dangerous again. Substitute Jhon Pirez had a shot in the box blocked in the 83rd minute, and later, his headed effort off a free kick went wide of the far post.

Tulsa was finally rewarded for its efforts in the 90th minute. A pass from the left wing from Vukovic hit Diaz just outside the box.  He took a touch into the penalty area before hammering a low shot into the far corner of the net to level the score at 1-1.

Three minutes into stoppage time, Gamble made a bit to find a winner for the Roughnecks. He beat several defenders on a long run into the penalty area but Reynish came out to block his shot and end the match.

“It took us a little bit to get a rhythm, but we thought we’d be stronger in the second half knowing that they were coming off a midweek game,” said Nsien. “So, we got into the game a little late, but then we made a good push to try to get the win.  In the end, we feel like we could have gotten three points in the end.”

Fresno had a 21-15 advantage in total shots in the match, but the Roughnecks held a 6-4 advantage on shots on target. TRFC also owned just over 55% of the possession.

The ending was very similar to the first meeting between the two teams back in April when Jon Bakero scored in stoppage time for Tulsa, resulting in a 2-2 draw.

The Roughnecks will now have 10 days off before returning to action for the second of three straight home matches on Aug. 8.

It will also be the third and final edition of the Black Gold Derby as the Roughnecks host the Oklahoma City Energy. It will be Bark in the Park and Buck Night at ONEOK Field with kickoff in downtown Tulsa scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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