The Orange County Blues had another tough night at the office on Thursday, as they lost to the Tulsa Roughnecks in Tulsa 4-1. A good start by the California side seemed to bode well through 45 minutes, and Christian Mata and Didier Crettenand traded goals in the first half, but some terrible luck just after the break and a fading Blues effort could not keep up with the second-half onslaught by the Roughnecks.
Christopher Santana's bullet off a corner kick in the very first minute met a reaction save from Tulsa goalkeeper Jake Feener, making his debut for the club on the night, and the save was just enough to clip the crossbar and go over goal.
Feener stepped up once again 10 minutes in, as he pushed aside a sharp strike from Chris Cortez to keep the score level, and again a minute later to come and snuff out Christofer Ramirez's breakaway. Moments later, Santana sent a tap-in from a Crettenand cross just wide of the far post.
Blues goalkeeper Pepe Miranda came through on the other end in the 20th minute, as he pushed a Brady Ballew shot just over the bar.
Mata opened the scoring in the 33rd minute, as the Oklahoma native took the pass on a run just outside the box, went on a nifty cutback, and slotted the shot past Miranda.
OC equalized in the 43rd minute, when they went on a counterattack, and Cortez, running the ball up on the left flank, sent a beautiful pass through the box to Crettenand, who was making a far post run and he one-timed it into the net. It was Crettenand's seventh goal of the season, putting him in a tie with Ramirez for team lead.
An own goal became the Blues' undoing right after the break, as Jack McCracken's attempted clearance bounced off Beto Navarro's face right in front of goal and went in. A complete fluke, the own goal took the wind out of their sails and they unfortunately never recovered.
Oscar Jimenez padded Tulsa's lead just before the hour mark, to complete an impressive buildup from the Roughnecks. Sammy Ochoa switched the field with a terrific pass to Ballew, who then sent a quick cross that Jimenez finished while making a trailing run.
Feener made two big stops with about 15 minutes to play, stopping a shot from Crettenand and then a Cortez header off Jimmy Turner's long throw-in, making it the second straight game where a terrific goalkeeping performance stymied the Blues' attack.
Substitute Kidd Nwabueze scored the final goal of the night in second-half stoppage time, getting two chances off a free kick to beat Miranda.
The Blues have a quick turnaround, as they will remain in Oklahoma and travel to Oklahoma City to face OKC Energy on Saturday. The last time they had two games in three days, they won the second match -- can they do that once again to stop their current losing streak?
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