USL Match report

Match Report: City Islanders 2-2 Bethlehem Steel

Photo: Courtesy of City Islanders

Author’s note: The live stream of the game ceased at the 57:12 mark in the second half and did not resume until late in stoppage time. I followed during the hiatus on Twitter, but the information is sparse. The live stream provided no recap whatsoever after the game went final, so I have not seen the equalizer. I apologize for the many questions I cannot address since I did not see some 32 minutes of the game.

Bethlehem Steel FC conceded an 81st minute equalizer to draw 2-2 with City Islanders scored an on Tuesday night at FNB Field in Harrisburg.

The Steel’s failure to hold the lead is especially disappointing since they themselves had fought back from a 1-0 deficit surrendered late in the first half with their own beautiful first half stoppage time goal and then a free kick score to take the lead in the 49th minute. Now winless over the last eight games, Bethlehem will feel they have dropped two points.

The game itself

Once again City Islanders head coach Bill Becher proved to be wily and unpredictable. Having beaten the Steel at Lehigh playing bunker and counter, the City Islanders this time came out to play. Conventional short passing combinations could not break down the Steel defense, and neither side was effective offensively. City Islanders playmaker Jose Barril had no effect on the half other than picking up a yellow card, for example.

Until the 43rd minute there was only one shot on goal by either side –Bolu Akinyode on the left just outside the top of the box – and only six shots of any kind. The Steel had a flurry of offensive success around the thirty minute mark.

In the 43rd minute Liam Doyle, the City Islanders’ left center back, struck the only long, direct service to his striker of the half. Craig Foster had been gravitating to the right against Anderson at every opportunity and once again the Brazilian’s pace was insufficient as the surprise ball cleared both him and Ryan Richter. Foster collected and scored easily past a helpless Matt Jones. Anderson’s frustration was evident. He had played mistake free soccer up to that point. Fortunately he avoided fouling from behind and being sent off for the denial of a goal scoring opportunity.

Two minutes later the Steel struck back. Richter was released down the right side in the offensive third chased by the Islander left back Lee Thomas. Richter executed a classic cut back onto his left foot disposing of Thomas, pulled the ball and delivered a beautiful weak foot cross to the far post just inside the six onto which ran Eric Ayuk, who had both a step and a leap on his marker and headed it home. The Cameroonian youth international scored his third of the season, and a pretty goal it was.

The second half began with more offense in three minutes than the previous 46 put together. Corner kick followed corner kick followed corner kick after only one before the break.

In the 49th minute Harrisburg fouled Derrick Jones five yards beyond the box and just inside its corner. James Chambers addressed the ball shooting for the far post, the location of Keasel Broome, City’s goalkeeper. Chambers kept the ball low out of sight behind the wall and put it past the far post end. Broome did not see it, and took a step to the near post expecting the obvious shot only to have it fly past on the other side and give the Steel the lead.

Since acquiring his new crew cut, the formerly snake bitten Irishman has scored twice in three games. There is no truth to the rumor that Coach Burke is bringing clippers to practice on Thursday.

Harrisburg began to press the attack, but the Steel seemed up to the task.

Eight minutes later the feed died, a phenomenon not unknown to those with experience of Harrisburg broadcaster Invica Sports.

From @BSteel FC

Ayuk had a good shot in the 61st.

Josh Heard came on for Walter Restrepo in the 78th (as the only Steel sub of the game).

And Craig Foster put his shot between Matt Jones’s legs in the 81st on a well-timed pass from Paul Wilson to equalize for the City Islanders.

Chambers shot wide in the 86th.

Leo Fernandes forced a good save from Broome in the 88th.

Here the stream resumed

And Matt Jones collected a shot right at him just before the referee blew the whistle for full time. It was his eighth save of the match tying the club record.

Three points

1. The organization partially addressed the challenge of playing on Tuesday after riding home into the daylight hours of Sunday morning by sending several first team reserves in need of game minutes. Matt Jones started in goal behind the usual defense of recent games, Richter*, Anderson*, Auston Trusty*, and Taylor Washington*. The central midfield remained the same with Akinyode*, Derrick Jones*, and Chambers, albeit with more fluid interchange between the forward two. And the front three were Ayuk, Restrepo and Fernandes. (“*” means rode that bus from Louisville.)

2. Normally this season the attacking five or six field players have stayed fairly fixed in easily identified positions in relation to each other. Not this front five this time. Of the front six only Akinyode could usually be found where he “belonged.” Coach Burke had his boys doing their best Richmond Kickers imitation instead. In the first half the only consistent feature of the fluidity was that the left flank midfield space was unoccupied and waiting for Taylor Washington to move forward into it.

3. Nick Bibbs was the only defender on the bench. None of the usual strikers were with the squad. (Corey Burke is with Jamaica. Liberia have a match against Tunisia on Saturday, September 3, so it is possible Seku Conneh is with them, but we don’t know). The rest of the bench was a goalkeeper and midfielders.

The Steel are now in 10th place (6-11-9) with 27 points because Harrisburg, also with 27 points (7-14-6), has one more win to take ninth.  Bethlehem hosts NYRB II at 3 pm on Sunday, Sept. 4 at Lehigh. The City Islanders are off until Wednesday, Sept. 7 when they travel to face NYRB II at 4 pm

Bethlehem Steel FC
Matt Jones; Taylor Washington, Anderson Cenceicao, Ryan Richter, Auston Trusty, Derrick Jones, Boluwatife Akinyode, James Chambers, Eric Ayuk, Walter Restrepo (Joshua Heard 78′)
Substitutions Not Used: Gabriel Gissie, Nick Bibbs, Matthew Perella, Justin McMaster, Anthony Fontana, Josue Monge

City Islanders
Keasel Broome; Jamie Thomas, Liam Doyle, Dante Leverock, Shawn McLaws; Cardel Benbow, Bobby Warshaw, Mouhamed Dabo (Garret Pettis 74′), Cam Vickers (Paul Wilson 62′); Jose Barril, Craig Foster
Substitutions Not Used: Nick Noble (GK), Josh Hughes, Matt Bolduc, Brett Jankouskas, Danny DiPrima

Scoring Summary
HAR – Foster (Doyle) 43′
BST – Ayuk (Richter) 45′
BST – Chambers (unassisted) 48′
HAR – Foster (Wilson) 81′

Disciplinary Summary
HAR – McLaws (25′)
HAR – Barril (29′)
HAR – Leverock (77′)
HAR – Thomas (86′)

2 Comments

  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Raise your hand if you’re disappointed not to see a certain captain of the Union playing for Bethlehem.

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