Flemmings hat-trick inspires Phoenix rout
Reggae Boy Junior Flemmings netted a superb hat-trick as Phoenix Rising FC came from behind to thrash New Mexico United 5-1 in the United Soccer League on Saturday night.
Playing in Scottsdale, Arizona, the hosts fell behind early through a fifth-minute strike from Romeo Parkes, but the 24-year-old Flemmings equalised in the 17th minute before scoring twice in the last 20 minutes to lead a rout of the visitors.
For Phoenix, the victory was their second on the trot following a surprise loss to Orange County FC last month, and Flemmings said afterwards they were still smarting from that defeat.
"Coming off that defeat we said that wasn't good enough," said Flemmings, who moved his tally for the new season to a league-leading seven goals. "We had to compete harder and we did that tonight."
Another defeat looked on the cards when Amando Moreno put a searching cross from the right into the box for Parkes to elude his marker and lob a header past goalkeeper Zac Lubin from 18 yards out, to put the visitors ahead at Casino Arizona Field.
But Flemmings inspired Phoenix's revival, hauling them back on level terms when he latched on to a ball over the top, out-muscled one defender to bury a clinical right-footed volley into the upper right-hand corner from just inside the box.
When Rufat Dadashov scored five minutes later, Phoenix were in front and took the 2-1 lead into the break.
AJ Cochran added a third seven minutes following the resumption but New Mexico hit back through Andrew Tinari, the 24-year-old forcing a cross over the line in the 59th minute following a goal-mouth scramble.
The scoreline remained narrow until Flemmings took charge of the contest.
His second goal came in the 73rd minute when he swept in a low Jon Bakero cross from close range and he put the game to bed four minutes from time, drilling a thunderous volley past goalkeeper Cody Mizell after being picked out inside the box by a superb through ball from Santi Moar.
At Sportsplex at Matthews in North Carolina, Jamaican Dane Kelly scored in the 38th minute as his Charlotte Independence drew 1-1 with Charleston Battery, who benefited from an Aaron Maund own goal in the 42nd minute.
Battery lost Jamaican Rennico Clarke in the 85th minute after he was sent off for pulling Kelly back in the penalty area with a goalscoring opportunity on the cards.
Another Jamaican, Devon Williams, found the nets, this time for Louisville FC, but they were held to a 1-1 stalemate by Indy Eleven at Lynn Family Stadium in Kentucky.
And at Bold Stadium in Del Valle, Texas, Turk and Caicos Islands' Billy Forbes was on target in second-half stoppage time for Austin Bold as they hammered Rio Grande Valley FC 4-1.