USL Match report

Match report: Wilmington Hammerheads 1-1 Bethlehem Steel FC

Photo: Courtesy of Bethlehem Steel FC

Bethlehem Steel and Wilmington Hammerheads played out a 1-1 draw at Legion Stadium in Wilmington, North Carolina on Friday.The Steel remain undefeated in two games on a five-game road trip.

Taylor Washington and Cole Massimo joined the Steel from the Union for this match.  Union Academy players Mark McKenzie, Auston Trusty (starter), Justin McMaster (subbed on), and C.J. Dos Santoswere also with the team.

First Half

The Hammerheads started the half sluggishly as Bethlehem moved the ball quickly around the pitch. The ball was played out of the back and into the center midfield of Derrick Jones and Bolu Akinyode. The quick tempo of play allowed Seku Conneh to drive an early free kick from 25 yards out over the wall, forcing a save from Wilmington goalkeeper John Smits.

The Hammerheads were able to get forward themselves in the 17 minute but a low cross to the top of the 18 failed to produce a goal as the shot was blasted high and wide. Three minutes later, Derrick Jones received the ball in the middle of the park and played a beautiful through ball to the running Seku Conneh that the Liberian striker allowed to bounce before wonderfully chipping the keeper to give the Steel the 1-0 lead.

The goal was the only real, clear cut chance Bethlehem created. After a water break in minute 25, Wilmington returned energized and knocked the ball around efficiently before switching the ball wide and creating excellent crossing opportunities.But these positive advanced positions were never capitalized on by the Hammerheads as crosses were inaccurate or attackers fell short when presented with the chance to score.

The best chance Wilmington had to equalize in the first half was in the 29th minute when a dangerous cross was headed towards goal that Samir Badr saved. The rebound fell to another attacker who headed onto the post and the ensuing rebound was shot against the crossbar before Badr finally claimed the ball.

Badr played an excellent half and made several key saves and was commanding of his area, but Bethlehem were lucky to escape the first period of play without conceding with the Hammerheads keping the tempo up and looking dangerous until the whistle.

Second Half

Two minutes into the second half, Badr ruined his superb first half performance with a horrible mistake that allowed Wilmington to equalize. The Steel keeper caught a ball delivered from a corner above his head and, looking unsure of his footing, then dropped it right onto the foot of Fairclough, who finished into the roof of the net.

For the rest of the game, each team had trouble maintaining possession for extended periods of time, especially after the start of heavy rainfall midway through the second half. Neither could impose their will on the match and each promising attack ended with a misplaced final pass or a shot blasted high and wide.

Wilmington made most of their chances from working the ball quickly outside before sending in a low, hard cross. But no Hammerheads player ever ran effectively onto to the dangerous crosses and the positive opportunities amounted to nothing.

The Steel were equally as ineffective in the attacking third as good interchanging one-two play resulted in either a hurried pass or unconvincing effort that did little to trouble the Wilmington keeper.

Cory Burke looked the most lively as he used his pace to harass defenders and create opportunities for himself off the dribble For all his hard work, it produced little in the way of a clear scoring opportunity.

Bethlehem’s series of road games continues on Saturday, June 25 in Virginia against DC United affiliate Richmond Kickers.

Bethlehem Steel
Samir Badr; Ryan Richter ©, Mickey Daly, Auston Trusty, Taylor Washington; Bolu Akinyode, Derrick Jones, James Chambers (Josh Heard 90’), Cole Missimo (Jamie Luchini 62’); Seku Conneh, Cory Burke (Justin McMaster 90’)
Substitutes not used: CJ Dos Santos, Nick Bibbs, Gabe Gissie, Mark Mckenzie

Wilmington Hammerheads
John Smits; Ashani Fairclough, Tom Parratt (Logan Miller 76’), Mael Corboz, Kyle Parker (Qudus Lawal 81’); Bruno Perone (Stefan Defregger 53’), Jeff Michaud (Casey Townsend 47’), Justin Moose, Liam Miller, Austin Martz, Peabo Doue
Substitutes not used: Sam William, Zev Taubleb, Matt Bames Homer

Scoring Summary
BSFC: Seku Conneh (Derrick Jones) — 19′
WILM: Ashani Fairclough — 48′

Disciplinary Summary
BSFC: Bolu Akinyode — 57′
WILM: Casey Townsend — 63′
BSFC: Derrick Jones — 89′

Match Stats (BSFC / WILM)
Shots: 5 / 10
Shots On Goal: 3 / 4
Corners: 1 / 5
Saves: 3 / 2

Match Officials
Jorge Ramirez, Erick Varone (Assistant), Brian Bozard (Assistant), Patrick Whitman (Fourth)

Attendance: 2,901

One Comment

  1. Old Soccer Coach says:

    It is not a surprise that the starting attacking foursome looked less cohesive that the foursome as it existed after substitutions happened, the goal notwithstanding.
    Those who practice together more frequently play together better, Alan Iverson’s view of practice to the contrary.
    I enjoy watching Corey Burke play striker.

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