USL Match report

Match report: Penn FC 3-2 Bethlehem Steel

Photo courtesy of Penn FC

Bethlehem Steel’s unbeaten streak ended in Harrisburg on Friday night, falling 3-2 to a home Penn FC side that out-hustled and out-worked them for the first 70 minutes.

Penn scored two first-half goals off rebounds in the box, the first in the 20th by Frederick Opeku and the second in the 25th by Lucky Moksana, and found the winner in the 55th minute from Issac Osae on a feed from Moksana.

In-form striker Fabian Herbers collected a brace for Bethlehem, notching the game’s opening goal in the 17th minute and adding a penalty kick drawn by Olivier Mbaizo in the 68th.

Osae’s game winner was the 20th shot of the match at the time for the artists formerly known as Harrisburg City Islanders. At that point the Steel had only 5.

Penn’s midfield outplayed Bethlehem’s. Steel coach Brendan Burke subbed Anthony Fontana off in the 63rd minute for Drew Skundrich, but did not remove Derrick Jones. To say that the fourth-on-the-depth-chart Union central midfielder had a quiet game would be to put it as nicely as possible. The performance vindicated Jim Curtin’s judgment that Jones is not ready currently to play for the first team.

Fabian Herbers showed energy and urgency but received a yellow card for dissent, bizarrely expressed by squirting a water bottle towards the referee. He will be suspended for the Steel’s next game with his fifth yellow card of the season.

The best player on the pitch was Moksana, who looked returned to full health and played in a creative role as Penn’s number 10. Bethlehem played its customary high restraining line defensively, and Moksana repeatedly unlocked the combination of Richie Marquez and Brandon Aubrey in the center. Marquez, a longtime starter for the Union who has yet to feature this year in MLC, put in a mental performance that could charitably be described as rusty.

The performance highlights how difficult it is to play a high restraining line effectively, particularly when the Steel’s midfield is not controlling the opposition’s.

Bethlehem began to pressure Penn after Burke’s first two subs came on, but it proved to be too little too late.

Bethlehem now faces a draining stretch three games in 8 days, away to the expansion side in north Georgia, home to an increasingly desperate North Carolina team, and then away to rival Red Bulls 2 who owe the Steel for a loss and a comeback draw. They lie 10th in the eastern conference table on 23 points.  Nashville lies seven places above them in 3rd on 26.

Next up for the Steel is an outing against another wholly owned MLS affiliate side in Atlanta United 2. Kickoff for the away match on Wednesday, July 11 is at 7:00 p.m.

Three points

Injury updates: Both Omar Holness and Aidan Apodaca participated in the competitive portions of the Steel’s practice Thursday. Apodaca participated fully, while Holness played as the neutral player in the half field scrimmage. Coach Burke indicated that Apodaca might get a uniform on the bench midweek next week, a roster reinforcement that would be welcome given the impending schedule. Burke said Holness is not quite due for a uniform yet but is close. Michee Ngalina has a slight hamstring problem and in any case has been working with the first team.

Numbers: Santi Moar’s assist is his team-leading fifth, and Herbers’ brace puts him into the goal-scoring lead with five. This edition of the Steel has diffused its scoring among several players, unlike last season when Cory Burke and Seku Conneh scored 19 between them.

Goalkeeping: While Jake McGuire will lament the two rebounds that were scored later in the game he saved at least two Penn opportunities later in the game that should by rights have put the game out of reach. Both shots where rebounds were conceded were difficult shots to handle.

Lineups

Bethlehem Steel FC

Jake McGuire*; Olivier Mbaizo*, Richie Marquez* (Matt Mahoney 86’), Brandon Aubrey, Matt Real*; James Chambers ©, Derrick Jones*; Chris Nanco, Anthony Fontana* (Drew Skundrich 63’), Santi Moar (Tonny Temple** 79’); Fabian Herbers*.
Unused Substitutes: Tomas Romero**; Prosper Chiluya, Ben Ofeimu**, Mike Catalano.

*Union player **Academy player

Penn FC

Romuald Peiser; Marco Franco, Kyle Venter ©, Harri Hawkins, Pedro Galvao; Dan Metzger (Miguel Jaime 89’), Richard Menjivar; Pauolo Jr. (Jake Bond 71’), Lucky Moksana, Frederick Opeku; Issac Osae (Calvin Rezende 63’).
Unused Substitutes: Sean Lewis; Tiago Calvano, S. Barone, Baffoe Prince.

Scoring summary

BSFC      17th minute      Herbers (Moar)
PFC        20th minute      Opoku
PFC        25th minute      Moksana
PFC        55th minute      Osae (Moksana)
BSFC     68th minute      Herbers (PK)

Disciplinary summary

BSFC      6th minute        yellow      Richie Marquez (foul)
BSFC      68th minute      yellow      Fabian Herbers (dissent)
BSFC      83rd minute      yellow      James Chambers (foul)

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