MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis 901 FC used two goals in each half to secure their first USL Championship home win of the season.
Elliot Collier was the man of the match. The New Zealander terrorized Hartford’s back line on the way to his historic hat trick with three goals from four shots.
The Hartford Athletic produced the first chance of the night, only three minutes after kickoff.
Goalkeeper Scott Levene could not handle the initial long-range attempt, and the ball trickled into a danger area. Wojciech Wójcik fired the rebound off the cross-bar, and Memphis survived the early scare.
Minutes later, Memphis broke through.
Cameron Lindley led the break and connected with Collier on the edge of the box. Collier completed one step-over and fired his shot past goalkeeper Frederick Due at the near post.
The 901 FC smothered Hartford for the next five minutes, and a second goal was eminent.
This time, it was Adam Najem who led the counter-attack. He sliced through the midfield and fed Collier, who was open in the same spot where he scored his first goal. He made one move to escape his marker and scored near-post to extend the 901 FC’s lead to 2-0.
Head Coach Tim Mulqueen instructed his team to sit back for the rest of the half and keep the two-goal lead.
Hartford began to create spells of possession, but Marc Burch and Ewan Grandison snuffed out any goal-scoring chance inside the box. Burch led the team with seven clearances.
The Athletic were able to cut the defense in half against the run of play.
Mads Jørgensen created a space 20 yards out and unleashed a curling strike. Levene could not track the ball through traffic and Jørgensen’s shot ricocheted off the inside post and into the net.
Mulqueen modified the tactics after Hartford’s goal, and Memphis remained in control of the match.
The 901 FC seemingly extended their lead 10 minutes before the half, but the goal was disallowed by the linesman due to a foul.
Memphis went into the half full of confidence and looked to carry their momentum into the second half.
The second half contained nearly as much excitement as the first 45 minutes.
Hartford was clearly trying to enact an all-attacking game plan, and Memphis thwarted any early chance of an equalizer.
The match slowed at the hour mark, as both teams made substitutes. Lagos Kunga came in for Duane Muckette, indicating that Mulqueen demanded more goals.
With 15 minutes left to play, Memphis pushed numbers forward, and Hartford could not adapt.
Josh Morton sliced a pass to Collier, and the forward raced into the box. He pulled off two dribbles and left the defense in his dust before slotting his shot into the net.
The Bluff City Mafia serenaded Collier, and his teammates were delighted in his performance.
Up 3-1 with 10 minutes remaining, the 901 FC were not content with the two-goal win.
Substitute Jochen Graf made a run on top of the box and laid a pass off to Kunga, who was in space. Kunga’s first-time shot flew past the goalkeeper and bulged out the back of the net.
The 4-1 score line marked the 901 FC’s largest USL win, and Collier’s hat-trick set the record for most goals scored in a single match by a 901 FC player.
Memphis is back in action July 13 at the Charleston Battery. Their next home match is against the Nashville SC on July 17.
— By WREG’s Caleb Hilliard