Allan Russell has spent most of his career up top, with stints around his native Scotland and England before coming to America two years ago, so he knows goals. His switch to a holding midfield slot with the L.A. Blues hasn't altered his focus.
Russell pounced on a loose ball in the box following a corner kick to give the Blues a 1-0 USL Pro victory Friday night at Dayton, his team-best second goal of the season.
It was a make-up play for the 31-year-old Scot, who had skied a penalty kick well over the crossbar just 12 minutes earlier. His other goal, in last week's win over Wilmington, was from the penalty spot.
The victory extended L.A.'s unbeaten streak to three games with another match set for Saturday night at Pittsburgh. The Blues (2-2-1) vaulted from 10th to fifth in 11-team league and remained nine points off the third-division lead. Dayton (0-3-2) is in last place.
Bright Dike made his presence felt in his first appearance for the Blues, forcing a point-blank save from Dutch Lions goalkeeper Matt Williams in the 26th minute and drawing the foul from Mettin Copier for Russell's 67th-minute spot kick, but Ladislas Bushiri made the biggest difference after coming on in the second half.
The big Congolese-born Canadian, making just his second appearance of the season, entered in the 61st minute for Cheun-Yong Park to change L.A.'s formation from a 4-4-2 to a 4-5-1. He clamped down on Dayton's midfield game, got involved in the attack and played the most prominent role as the Blues took charge for the final half-hour.
Dayton had more chances in the game, but Jose Miranda made several big saves -- diving to push Joel DeLass' stoppage-time shot off the post, with the biggest -- and Cory Miller was a beast in the air as the Blues held off a late Dutch Lions push that included four corner kicks in succession in the 88th and 89th minutes.
Williams had less work to do at the other end, but he did well to stop Dike in the 26th. He saved Park's rebound, too, but that's primarily because the South Korean fired into the prone Williams and Dike.
Russell's goal, in the 79th, came from a corner kick that pinballed in the goalmouth. Williams got a hand to it en route to the lower-right corner.
Miami Valley South Stadium (Bellbrook, Ohio)
Dayton Dutch Lions 0, L.A. Blues 1
LA -- Allan Russell 79
Dayton Dutch Lions: Matt Williams; Gregory Preciado, Nixon Dias, Mettin Copier (Eric Kissinger, 78), Shane Smith; Bret Jones, Kyle Knotek (Toric Robinson, 68), Joel DeLass, Eli Garner; Gibson Bardsley (Dan Holowaty, 82), Gerrit Jan Bartels. Unused subs: Jeff de Groot, Taylor Lord, Mikael McNamara, Corey Wisenhunt.
L.A. Blues: Jose Miranda; Erlys Garcia, Cory Miller, Ebrima Jatta, Sun-Hyung Cho (Ricky Waddell, 46); George Davis IV, Allan Russell, Irving Garcia (Shay Spitz, 80), Carlos Borja; Bright Dike, Cheun-Yung Park (Ladislas Bushiri, 61). Unused subs: Bryan Burke, Matt Fondy, Israel Sesay.
Yellow cards: Park 60, Preciado 86.
Referee: Britton Maier. Att.: 780.
Records: Dayton Dutch Lions 0-3-2, 2 points; L.A. Blues 2-2-1, 7 points.