Harrisburg and Richmond came into their second match-up of the season facing similar issues. Each team had been playing solid on defense, but neither team had been able to generate much offensive production. Saturday’s match in Richmond seemed like the perfect opportunity for somebody to break out and kick their season into high gear. However, after ninety minutes of play, the end result was a nil-nil draw.
Just about that time... pic.twitter.com/juBQl2fmbX— Richmond Kickers (@RichmondKickers) May 13, 2017
This scoreline didn’t seem inevitable at first. The City Islanders pushed forward immediately and even managed a shot within the first minute of play. The Harrisburg player who was consistently involved in these early chances was Cardel Benbow. His speed and dribbling were able to give him some space to work with, but a strong shot in the eighth minute was collected by the Richmond keeper, and an exciting breakaway in the 16th minute was shut down by a last second slide tackle by Richmond’s Mallan Roberts.
The momentum started to swing the Kickers’ way around the 30th minute. They were able to control the ball and put a few shots on goal, but Harrisburg keeper Brandon Miller stepped up to deny the Richmond opportunities. The biggest stop was shutting down an open Alhaji Kamara in the 31st minute to keep things level.
Richmond kept the momentum going into the second half and continued to test the City Islanders defense. They maintained the majority of possession, but their shots sailed high or they were caught offside. So to freshen things up, the Kickers made two subs in the 60th minute, bringing on Finnlay Wyatt and Jackson Eskay in the hopes of getting the go-ahead goal.
Business finally picked up for both sides in the 71st minute. First, Harrisburg’s Shawn McLaws sent a long cross toward the goal that Richmond’s keeper was able to collect fairly easily. The Kickers were able to make a quick counter and Finnlay Wyatt crossed the ball to an open Alhaji Kamara who couldn’t quite close the distance and the ball rolled just wide of the net. Brandon Miller was livid at this chain of events, but he was able to put the ball in play fast enough to allow Harrisburg’s Ropapah Mensah to pull off another shot from distance still within the 71st minute. Whoever said that a nil-nil draw couldn’t be exciting?
The last, best chance to break the scoreless draw came for Richmond in the 89th minute when Alex Lee sent a cross into Harrisburg’s box from midfield. Brandon Miller went to punch the ball away, but he collided with some Kickers in mid-air and came down on his back and off his line. Harrisburg’s defenders were able to block Eric Klenofsky’s follow up shot, only for the ball to fall at the feet of a wide open Anthony Grant. But Grant whiffed on his first touch and Harrisburg’s defenders were able to close and clear the ball out of the box. Wyatt gathered the ball as Miller regained his footing, but his shot from the edge of the box went just wide.
Neither side was able to make a serious push for the go ahead goal during added time, and the final whistle blew with the score still 0-0.
Harrisburg will be back in action in an Open Cup match at the Ocean City Nor’easters on Wednesday the 17th. Richmond’s next match will be an Open Cup appearance against Christos FC, also on the 17th.
- Harrisburg was only able to win one corner during the entire match. This might not seem like a big issue, but Aaron Wheeler has scored twice this year off of corner kicks. Generating more corner opportunities would make for a more dangerous Islanders offense.
- Both of Harrisburg’s Ghanaian forwards appeared as substitutes during the match. Ropapah Mensah was making his third substitute appearance for the season, while Fredrick Yamoah Opoku made his debut appearance for the City Islanders after signing with the club on May 5th.
- After getting an assist with the Kickers last week, D.C. United’s Chris Korb was back to playing with the parent club during tonight’s match. He made an appearance as a substitute during D.C. United’s loss to the Philadelphia Union.
- In the interest of covering all aspects of the match, there was some pretty poor play from the ball kids at City Stadium Saturday night. I suggest you revisit the 11th minute of the match on the live stream. Not sure what he was thinking on that one.