In the 55th minute of the game, Birmingham made the most of a breakaway opportunity that had many in the stands calling offside when Will Bagrom snuck one past Otters goalkeeper Tyler Pavlet to give Birmingham the only goal of the game.
“We came out exceptionally sluggish. We don’t know what happened in the last 24 or 48 hours that has made us not have that extra step,” Otters head coach David Strickland said. “This one is on us. We talked at halftime that all it takes is one chance and, unfortunately, the chance was theirs.”
The Otters got off to slow start, especially within the first 20 minutes when Birmingham posed the most threats to open up the scoring.
However, the Otters’ back lines held tight and limited the Hammers’ opportunities and only allowed four shots.
Tri-Cities got the possession back in its favor about halfway through the first half. Goals did not come with the better play, but the opportunities were there with four corner kicks that set up the set pieces from Jeremy De Hoog.
The Otters simply had to be patient and wait for the breaking point as the match was still scoreless at the end of the first half.
The Otters opened the second half with aggression, and it almost paid off as a Henrique Devens’ cross found its way into the middle of the field directly in front of Taylor Gray for a shot.
Birmingham goalkeeper James Teal made a diving save and prevented a goal that would have been a huge momentum shift.
There were several opportunities for the Otters to knot the match at one goal and at least get a point out of the game, but all their attempts were for naught.
“It’s the middle of the season and it’s a grind. We just have to get back to training and go to their place in six days to try to get these three points back,” Strickland said.
The next game for the Otters will be a rematch with the Hammers in Birmingham on Tuesday. The next home game will be against the West Virginia Chaos on July 7.