Birchenall keys win for Quakes

Tim Hunt
Date Published: 
Daily Review

PORTLAND—Alan Birchenall scored two goals, the last coming with just 2:29 remaining to play, to spark the San Jose Earthquakes to an important 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers last night.

The San Jose win improves its record to 6-7, but the Quakes are still last in the Southern Division of the NASL with 69 points.

Two other Southern Division clubs lost last night as division leader Los Angeles suffered a stunning 4-1 defeat to Rochester, while Tampa Bay prevailed over Team Hawaii (San Jose's opponent Saturday in Hawaii) by a 4-3 score.

San Jose led 1-0 at halftime, but Portland finally cashed in after numerous good scoring opportunities in the second half when Stewart Scullion beat Mike Hewitt from 10 yards at 63:12. Scullion had taken a pass from Clyde Best and beat a San Jose defender to come in alone against goalie Hewitt.

The Quakes broke the tie in the waning minutes as Buzz Demling took a pass from Leroy Deleon and crossed the ball toward the far post. Portland goalie Mick Poole got his hands on the ball but was unable to control it and Birchenall, who had hustled up field, barely tapped the sphere over the goal line for the game-winner.

A Portland fullback nearly cleared the ball at the line, duplicating an earlier feat by Demling, but the referee correctly ruled the ball was over the line, with the goal counting.

The Quakes, playing without two regulars, still managed to move into a 1-0 halftime lead before the hostile Portland fans. San Jose's goal was among the finest seen this year, as Deleon and Birchenall combined for the tally at 31:40.

Tibor Molnar initiated the play down the left wing and pushed the ball forward to Tony Simoes. Simoes turned the ball toward Paul Child on the right side of the goal, but Portland defender Graham Day headed the back clear.

Deleon came flying up and beat Barry Lynch with a nice move and kicked a short pass back into the center. Birchenall seemed to appear out of thin air and headed the ball past the startled Portland defense.

The Quakes played without John Rowlands, who had to sit out the game after drawing a one-game suspension for his fourth yellow card of the season last week while defender Trevor Hockey also was sidelined due to a bruised thigh.

Earthquakes coach Gabbo Gavric used Molnar in the midfield and inserted Davie Kemp at outside fullback in place of Hockey.