Photo: Paul Rudderow
The Ocean City Nor’easters carried the momentum from their historic run in the US Open Cup, which culminated in a tough fought 2-1 loss to the Union at PPL Park, into five straight wins in USL-PDL play.
But, going into Sunday’s clash with Central Jersey Spartans, they were winless in two of the last three games, including a 1-1 draw at rivals Reading United and a 2-0 loss at home to Jersey Express.
They needed a statement game and they got it with a 5-0 drubbing of the Central Jersey Spartans.
And it was the Frank Tweneboa show from the onset.
The diminutive forward, who plays his college ball for Mercer County College, NJ hadn’t featured much in the last couple games and he, like his team, was out to prove a point. Ocean City took the game to the Spartans early, maintaining possession and pressing hard when they lost it.
In the 12th minute Tweneboa worked his way down the right to deliver the ball into the box for a cool finish from midfielder Ken Tribbet. This gave the Nor’easters, already on their front foot, even more of a spark.
With Ocean City still pushing, they had a legitimate shout for a hand ball in the box in the 26th minute with the ref only awarding a corner. But in the 36th minute, Tweneboa miss-hit a pass. The Spartans keeper, who misread the ball, could only watch it go spinning behind him into the net, putting Ocean City up 2-0.
At the start of the second half, Central Jersey came out with some renewed life. They slowly built up the play and had some solid spells of possession and even created a nice chance off a corner in the 59th minute.
It all went up in smoke when box-to-box dynamo JP Correa was hauled down in the area. Coach Tim Oswald gave the penalty to the hot-footed Tweneboa, who buried it for his second goal of the match.
After that, it was a bit too much for the tiring Central Jersey. The Nor’easters and Tweneboa, however, were not done.
Tweneboa earned his second assist, whipping the ball through the box for substitute Tim Mulgrew in the 75th minute. Just 10 minutes later, he completed his hat trick after he was taken down in the box, slotting home the penalty kick as coolly as his first to seal the 5-0 win.
With the victory, Ocean City find themselves in a three-way tie for second in the PDL’s Mid Atlantic Division with Baltimore Bohemians and Jersey Express at 19 points, although Ocean City has played two fewer games than those teams and one fewer than first place Reading United, who have 21 points.
After the game, the Man of the Match said, “I just came to play hard because I haven’t been starting lately. I had be working on my own in the gym and today was my time to prove I need to get back in the starting lineup.”
Ocean City won’t have much time to enjoy the win. They are back on the pitch July 4th at home at Carey Stadium against New Jersey Rangers.