Harrisburg City Islanders FC earned their second win of the season and their first home victory over Orlando City B on a warm spring evening in Harrisburg, PA.
Harrisburg made three changes to Friday’s lineup. Shane Johnson and Josh Hughes replaced Dante Leverock and Mouhamed Dabo, who were both given the night off. Aaron Wheeler got the start next to Paul Wilson, and Craig Foster was available on the bench. Jose Barril wore Dabo’s jersey, #21, instead of his usual #8.
City FC started the game with good stretches of possession. Like the previous two matches, Wilson dropped behind Wheeler into an attacking midfield position. Barril, Wilson, and Benbow interchanged positions freely throughout the first half.
In the 16th minute, Barril received the ball on the left wing with space. He played it forward and took a shot from a sharp angle towards goal. Orlando goalkeeper Mark Ridgers looked to make a comfortable save, but his defender stuck a boot in front of his hands and knocked the ball into the Orlando net.
Harrisburg continued to sustain possession after going ahead. In the 21st minute, referee Guido Gonzalez Jr. awarded a soft penalty to Orlando after a challenge from Doyle. Orlando’s Bryan Rochez stepped up and knock the ball passed Nick Noble to equalize at 1-1.
City FC was awarded a free kick in the 33rd minute off the corner of the box. Wilson and Barril stepped up to the ball, and Wilson sent a right-footed inswinger that found the head of Johnson, giving Harrisburg the lead.
Harrisburg continued to pressure Orlando for a while, but the intensity faded as they drew closer to the half. City FC relaxed, allowing Orlando to push the ball forward and get a few dangerous crosses into the box. Nick Noble made a key save before the referee’s whistle ended the first half: Harrisburg 2, Orlando 1.
After the break, Harrisburg conceded possession to Orlando. The Lions poked and prodded, but generated few quality chances. The City Islanders were awarded a corner kick in the 53rd minute. Barril’s kick found Johnson again, who sent the ball across the face of goal and just wide of the far post.
Harrisburg looked content to sit low and absorb pressure from Orlando. After winning possession, the City Islanders would feed their attacking midfield trio to counter. For their part, Orlando did well to Harrisburg’s relaxed defense to create a few good chances.
Brett Jankouskas (58’) and Youssef Naciri (71’) entered the game for Wheeler and Cardel Benbow, respectively. Naciri slotted in the central attacking midfield role, pushing Wilson out wide. Jankouskas almost earned a penalty kick in the 73rd minute, but the referee held his whistle.
Harrisburg earned a corner kick in the 83rd minute. Barril sent the ball into the box, but the Orlando keeper knocked the it away. The ball skipped up, and Bobby Warshaw attempted an overhead kick but missed the ball and connected with the face of Orlando’s Keegan Smith. Fortunately Smith was okay to continue, but Warshaw received a red card for his dangerous kick.
Orlando pushed hard for the remaining ten minutes of the match. Harrisburg did all they could to absorb pressure and clear the ball down field. The referee announced four minutes of stoppage time. About three minutes in, Orlando was awarded a free kick at the corner of the box. The Lions sent their keeper forward in a last ditch effort to salvage a point in Harrisburg. The free kick was taken but fell into the hands of Noble. With that, the game ended: Harrisburg 2, Orlando City 1.
With the victory, City FC improve to 2-3-0 on the season. Harrisburg will travel to New York on Saturday to take on the 2015 USL Champion Rochester Rhinos at Sahlen’s Stadium.
Goalkeeper: Nick Noble
Defense: Shawn McLaws, Shane Campbell, Liam Doyle, James Thomas (Shane Campbell 82’)
Midfield: Jose Barril (Danny DiPrima 88’), Bobby Warshaw, Josh Hughes, Cardel Benbow (Youssef Naciri 71’)
Forward: Paul Wilson, Aaron Wheeler (Brett Jankouskas 58’)
Unused substitutes: Keasel Broome, Matthew Bolduc, Craig Foster