USL Match report

Match report: Bethlehem Steel FC 1 – 1 North Carolina FC

Feature Photo: Courtesy of Jaime Heim Bethlehem Steel FC

Bethlehem Steel FC came back in the second half to draw North Carolina FC on a hot evening at Goodman stadium 1-1.

At the 23rd minute of the first half, slightly against the run of play, North Carolina midfielder Marcel Kanziora scored from outside the box on an assist from striker Daniel Rios.

Najem, courtesy Jaime Heim Bethlehem Steel FC

In the 56th minute Adam Najem returned the favor from inside the top of the box on an assist from Drew Skundrich.

The evening’s play was entertaining. Each side played to win. Neither dominated the other.

Both teams had almost exactly 400 passes and the possession statistics were even. Bethlehem had 17 shots with four on target. North Carolina’s only shot in the first half scored, but none of their seven in the second half were on target, although some crosses required excellence and bravery from Jake McGuire.

When Bethlehem held possession, they controlled space on the outer edges of the penalty box but had trouble getting inside it with open shots. As has been the organization’s pattern this season, triangle play on the right-side corner of the penalty box was common. The other major pattern was isolating Santi Moar repeatedly one-on-one on the Steel’s left side against Carolina right back Steven Miller. Moar was often able to escape and create chances.

North Carolina stayed farther away, especially thanks to the defensive efforts of Najem, Chambers and Skundrich, but occasionally they forced last ditch defending from the Steel’s back four.

The game saw real drama towards its end in the 96th minute of stoppage time. The last play before the final whistle saw Moar send a cross from the left side’s end line back beyond the the penalty spot.

Reminiscent of his strike against Red Bulls 2 a few games ago that secured the miracle draw, the captain unleashed a thunderous strike towards the net, only to see Graham Smith read the pass’s destination perfectly and deflect the shot away saving Carolina’s point as the referee raised the final whistle to his mouth.

The draw’s point leaves the Steel with 24, equal on points to 10th place Ottawa but behind them because of one fewer total wins in 11th, three points behind eighth place Charlotte.

They next play Wednesday in north Jersey at Red Bulls 2 at 7:00 PM

Three Points:

Game day 18: Only one of the field players on the bench had the theoretical capacity to play 90 minutes. Everyone else was recovering from injury. Aidan Apodaca was ready for 45 minutes and came on at half time. Omar Holness steeped on with 20 minutes to go, for an absolutely knackered Chris Nanco, and Brenden Aaronson gave Adam Najem a well-deserved curtain call about 10 minutes before the end.

Omar: For the first time, Steel fans got to see Omar Holness on the pitch. While he is expected to compete with Drew Skundrich as a number 8 next to James Chambers, he substituted for Nanco effectively on the flank. At one point he actually launched consecutive shots but they were both blocked. He also was yellow carded for dissent as his opinion of a call was overly clear to the ref.

Wrestling: An interesting match-up was North Carolina’s striker Donovan Evolo against Steel right center back 17-year-old Ben Ofeimu from the academy. Ben kept him neutralized drawing appreciation from coach Burke after the game. Evolo did win a free kick, but only after completely failing to overpower Ofeimu in what looked like an Olympic Graeco-Roman wrestling bout.

Lineup:

Bethlehem

Jake McGuire*; Matt Mahoney, Ben Ofiemu**, Brandon Aubrey, Prosper Chiluya; James Chambers ©, Drew Skundrich; Chris Nanco (Omar Holness 69’), Adam Najem*( Brenden Aaronson** 86’), Santi Moar; Tonny Temple** (Aidan Apodaca 46’). Unused Substitutes: Tomas Romero**; A. J. Patterson, Mike Pellegrino** . *first-team player (2) **academy player (5)

Out: Mike Catalano (hip flexor).

North Carolina

Alex Tambakis; Steven Miller, Connor Tobin ©, Michael Harrington, D. J. Taylor (Aaron Guillen 80’); Andre Fortune, Graham Smith, Kyle Bekker, Marcel Kanziora; Donovan Ewolo, , Daniel Rios (Tiyi Shipalene ’60). Unused Substitutes: Austin Guerrero;, Nelson Blanco, Wullito Fernandes , , Cameron Steele, Marios Lomis.

Goals:

North Carolina       23rd minute       Marcel Kandziora (Daniel Rios)
Bethlehem               56th minute       Adam Najem (Drew Skundrich)

Cards:

North Carolina      41st minute      yellow      Graham Smith (holding)
Bethlehem              65th minute     yellow      Prosper Chiluya (tactical foul)
North Carolina      70th minute     yellow      Dre Fortune (foul)
Bethlehem              83rd minute     yellow.     Omar Holness (dissent)
North Carolina.     90+3rd min      yellow.     Marcel Kanziora(foul)
Bethlehem              90+4th min       yellow.    Brandon Aubrey

Ref: JJ Bilinski AR1: Jeff Skinker AR2: Richard Zayas 4th: Joshua Encarnacion

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