USL Match report

Match report: Bethlehem Steel 3-0 Wilmington Hammerheads

Photo courtesy of Bethlehem Steel

Bethlehem Steel continued their hot home form by coasting past the Wilmington Hammerheads 3-0 on Thursday.

Bethlehem came out flying in the first half, showing signs of confidence after their recent win over Pittsburgh. The Steel moved the ball quickly and consistently looked to get forward. The day’s intense heat could not quell their pressing, and Brendan Burke’s men peppered the Wilmington cage with shots, equaling the franchise record in the first half.

In particular, Corey Burke was excellent both in his attacking contribution and his work rate. The striker constantly pressed the opposition defense despite the heat and was unlucky to not convert one of his many chances.

Bethlehem’s Josh Heard scored an incredible goal to give the Steel the lead in the 29th minute. The wide man held off a defender before spinning past and dribbling his way through two others before unleashing a strike into the upper right corner.

After a water break, Ryan Richter lobbed Derrick Jones through onto goal and the midfielder put it in the back of the net to double Bethlehem’s lead.

Wilmington put up a fight, and the scoreline did not reflect their effort throughout the match, though they did not seem as up to the heat as the Steel did.

The Hammerheads created excellent opportunities for themselves throughout the first half. One came in the 17th minute when Micky Daly failed to clear out a low cross and gave a Hammerhead plenty of space and time to shoot, only to see the shot ricochet off his own man. Another came on the 20th minute as the Steel failed to track back from a long attacking effort and were caught out at the back. Wilmington’s Austin Martz cut inside from the left and let loose a low fizzing shot, but it failed to trouble goalkeeper John McCarthy.

The Hammerheads developed a second wind in the ensuing period, but it was not enough to change the game. The Steel defense worked hard to keep Wilmington at bay, but they visibly tired as the second half wore on. In particular, Auston Trusty, a Union academy player, looked out of sorts as the game progressed.

That lack of focus allowed Wilmington to sneak a quick, short free kick just outside the six-yard box that resulted in a post-rattling shot but no goal. It was the Hammerheads’ best opportunity of the match, and the miss summed up their afternoon and performance.

Soon after, Burke went on a deep solo run into the 18-yard box, only to be tripped up and scuff his shot into the ground. It did not matter, as the energetic Gabe Gissie continued his sprint and picked up the pieces to drive the final dagger into Wilmington with the third goal in the 54th minute. It was just what Bethlehem needed to get through the period as the heat continued to cause both physical and mental fatigue.

Three points

  • Another clean sheet: John McCarthy returned to the lineup again for his second straight start, and the Steel collected their second consecutive clean sheet. This defensive record is promising, as center back Trusty is only 17 years old but has shown poise to anchor the defense.
  • Another teen impresses: 16-year-old Anthony Fontana again got some valuable minutes with the Steel. His calm, comfortable movement with the ball is encouraging and evidence of the ample amount of training time he receives. Regardless of whether he ever develops into an MLS player, the Union Academy is generating teenagers ready for professional play.
  • Record number of shots: The Steel recorded the most ever shots and the most ever goals in the franchise’s history. The offensive display was certainly dominant and hopefully now that confidence will keep the team going and scoring. Currently, the Steel sit poised to make a playoff berth.

Bethlehem Steel lineup
John McCarthy; Ryan Richter (C), Mickey Daly, Auston Trusty, Taylor Washington (Nick Bibbs 89’); Boluwatife Akinyode, James Chambers, Derrick Jones (Anthony Fontana 62’); Josh Heard (Jamie Luchini 71)’, Cole Missimo (Gabe Gissie 46’), Cory Burke (Seku Conneh 66’)
Substitutes not used: Badr Samir; Helbert Frederico Carriera Da Silva

Wilmington Hammerheads lineup
Eric Ati; Bruno Perone, Ashani Fairclough, Stefan Defregger (Tom Parratt 46’), Michael Mecham (Ferrety Sousa 57’); Liam Miller (C), Logan Miller, Justin Moose (Mathew Barnes-Homer 77’); Qudus Lawal (Jeff Michaud 46’), Casey Townsend (Kyle Parker 46’), Austin Martz
Substitutes not used: John Smits; Zev Taublieb

Match stats (BST / WIL)
Shots: 19-11
Shots On Goal: 5-3
Corners: 8-5
Saves: 3-2
Fouls: 11-6

Scoring summary
BST: Josh Heard — 29
BST: Derrick Jones — 42
BST: Gabe Gissie — 54

Discipline summary
WIL: Stefan Defreggar (Yellow) — 29
BST: 66’Seku Conneh (Yellow) — 66
WIL: 83’ Liam Miller (Yellow) — 83
WIL: 90’ Bruno Perone (Yellow) — 90


  1. Just read “Helbert Frederico Carriera Da Silva” and went… wait who? Spent a solid minute thinking it was a new academy kid I hadn’t heard of before I realized it was Fred.
    Glad Steel were able to pull out this result so soon after several of their more important players had appearances in that Palace friendly. Richter going the full 90 is particularly impressive. He’s earned a day off.

  2. So happy to see so many academy kids getting minutes.

  3. Great result on a horrible, horrible summer day. I’m really enjoying having this team to check in on.

    • Steel handled the oppressive heat better: another testament to the organization’s staff and its fitness and conditioning program.

  4. der Fussballzuschauer says:

    Ironically enough, it was the smallest crowd in Bethlehem Steel FC short’s history (announced at 1,008 spectators) that saw the largest victory in franchise history.

  5. Old Soccer Coach says:

    In reference to Gisse’s goal, careful, repeated looks at the video on You Tube suggest that Burke may, repeat, may, have intentionally toe poked the ball towards the opposite post, hoping for someone to run on.
    You cannot see Burke’s face and you cannot see his foot touch the ball. But the ball rolls perfectly flat on the carpet towards the post. Generally speaking a “squirt out” from a general melee bounces and has a more random direction.
    USL’s write up credits Burke with an assist on the play.
    Also, Josh Heard began his unassisted goal with a classic containing block on Stephan Defragger as he received the ball, so classic that Defragger received a yellow card for his complaints. Heard then turned him with an outside pivot and was off. Imagine Shaquille O’Neal receiving a pass in the low post with his man behind him.
    Finally, the title for this report could have been “Mad Dogs, Englishmen and 1,008 fans of Bethlehem Steel FC.” Playing in the noonday mid-July sun has been proven foolish. It is nothing any farmer in the Lehigh Valley doesn’t already know. My goodness. And this has been a relatively cool summer. (Touch wood).
    Oh, the last point, the reason I looked at the replay. Jones did not suffer a head strike when he went down. Replay suggests something with an eye.

    • der Fussballzuschauer says:

      “what amounted to a square ball” from Corey Burke is how I described it – but, then again, I have been described as being “harsh” on BSFC and have been questioned with respect to whether any of this USL stuff really matters anyway … meanwhile, if Josh Heard’s magnificent strike vs Wilmington Hammerheads is NOT BSFC’s proverbial “Goal Of The Season” then I would like to be corrected immediately

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