NEWARK - After more than 70 minutes of soccer, which had been dominated by defense, this was an opportunity, Carlos Vitor Alvarenga Silva wasn’t going to let pass. The talented Jersey Express midfielder saw opposing goalkeeper Kyle Morton stray from his net, giving Alvarenga Silva the opening he needed.
“I was going to the open space and I saw the goalkeeper coming out,” said Alvarenga Silva. “My first instinct is always to go over the goalkeeper when he’s out. Luckily he was out far enough for it to go over him and in.
“When the game is so tough and you get an opportunity like that, you have to take a risk and go with your instinct. Not go with one or two touches. I decided that I needed to take this shot and fortunately it went in.”
Alvarenga Silva took full advantage, lofting a shot from 30 yards over Morton’s head and into the open net in the 70th minute. The goal, his fifth of the season, proved to be the difference as the Express earned a 1-0 victory over Reading United on Wednesday night at NJIT’s Lubetkin Field.
The win moves the Express (7-2-2) into sole possession of first place in the PDL Mid-Atlantic Division at 23 points with just three matches remaining in the regular season. The United (6-2-3) are in a three-way tie for third place with 21 points.
Veteran Ansger Otto, who made his season debut for the Express assisted on the goal.
“We had that one opportunity and he didn’t wait, he got it on the first touch,” said Jersey Express coach Anderson Da Silva. “That was a smart decision and that was the difference.”
Goalkeeper Matthew Turner, along with the support of backs Yago Lopes, Matthew Mahoney and Sylvain N’Guessan ensured the lead held up. Turner, who posted his third consecutive shutout, made a two-handed save on Bradley Fountain’s shot in the 72nd minute, then denied Nico Delgado’s header in the 80th minute with a leaping stop.
“When you have a good goalie like him, everyone feels secure.” Da Silva said. “That’s what we expect from him because he’s been good every game. We couldn’t ask for more. You start your team with a good defense, starting with a good goalie. We have a good goalie.”
Turner, made four saves overall, including a big sliding stop on a Tom Barlow shot moments before the end of the first half. Reading had another golden scoring opportunity in the 46th minute off a turnover, but was denied when Lopes blocked Neco Brett’s shot towards the inside post of what had appeared to be an open net.
“Throughout the course of the season we’ve been getting more and more comfortable playing with each other and I think that’s showing on the field,” Turner said. “We’re really peaking at the right time.”
Morton made one save for Reading, which had a 13-5 advantage in shots and 6-3 edge in cornerkicks.