After squandering one opportunity after another in its debut shutout loss on Friday, FC Wichita discovered its finishing touch on Sunday in a 4-1 win over Liverpool International Academy. Another rowdy crowd packed Stryker Soccer Complex, but this time they were given something to cheer about.
“You want to give the crowd the ‘oohs’ and “aahs,’ and you want to give them something to take pride in,” FC Wichita coach Larry Inlow said. “We got the win, they got the win. Now they can come back and know they’re going to be entertained.”
A switch in formation overloaded the midfield and gave Wichita the advantage going forward to give fans an offensive spectacle. Even with the four goals, Wichita felt it once again left goals on the field.
But everyone’s focus afterward was on the win, and more importantly, the fashion in which Wichita did it.
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“We didn’t just win, we won with style and flair and we put in a lot of goals,” Wichita captain Shadow Sebele said. “That always gets the fans happy and hopefully keeps them coming back.”
Inlow nixed the 4-3-2-1 formation the team came out in its debut after noticing how his outside midfielders were sucked too far in the middle of the field. He kept the lone striker up top, in Newman’s Luca Anelli, but moved his outside midfielders further up the field in what became a 4-1-4-1 formation.
The result was Wichita consistently overwhelming Liverpool down the flanks, as Anelli, Sebele, Matt Clare, Iyassu Bekele, and Chisom Ogbanna produced scoring opportunity after opportunity in the first half.
“We’re more of an attacking team, so I think the change (in formation) really helped us exploit that,” Clare said. “The six we have going forward is a very good six.”
Wichita recorded its first goal in franchise history three minutes in, as Anelli broke free down the left side and sucked the defense and the keeper to him before playing it off to Sebele in the middle with essentially an open net.
“All I had to do was touch and finish,” Sebele said. “To score the first goal in team history in front of all of these fans, it was special. I’m going to remember this for a long time.”
Wichita tacked on its second goal in the 24th minute set up from a free kick. Liverpool tried to play an offside trap when Clare sailed in a cross from 40 yards away with the right weight, but Kevin Ten Eyck was ruled onside and he easily headed it backward to Ogbanna with another open net as Liverpool’s defense watched from outside the box.
Another chance presented itself in the 36th minute when Sebele was dragged down in the box on a challenge by a Liverpool defender. Clare had no troubles from the spot for a 3-0 lead, and he also added another penalty goal in the second half for the final scoreline.
Wichita’s defense once again choked out the opposition’s attack, out-possessing and out-shooting its opponent for the second straight game. This time, however, Wichita finished its chances.
“This was just an incredible feeling coming out and getting the first win out of the way,” Clare said. “Wichita fans are dedicated and loyal, but they’re only dedicated to wins. And that’s what Wichita should be. I think we showed what we’re capable of tonight.”
Wichita’s next fixture is May 31 when it plays Liverpool again, this time in Fort Worth, Texas. Wichita will return home June 9 when it plays Dallas City FC.
First half—Wichita, Sebele (Anelli); Wichita, Ogbanna (Ten Eyck); Wichita, Clare (pk). Second half—Liverpool, Eligwa (pk); Wichita, Clare (pk).
Shots—Liverpool 1-3—4; Wichita 8-5—13. Saves—Liverpool, Luna 5-4—9; Wichita, Vargas 1-x—1, Fenner x-2—2.