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Chris and Evan recap Bethlehem Steel FC vs Harrisburg City Islanders

Didn’t think we’d recap this separately did you?

Pat Jacoby Photography

Evan Villella, Bethlehem Steel FC correspondent: Well, that’s a bit more like it from a Steel side of things. Your initial thoughts, Chris?

Chris Bratton, Harrisburg City Islanders correspondent: Our issues with nagging injuries definitely had an impact on our lineup for the match. Cardel Benbow was out of the lineup after he got hurt during the Pittsburgh match. As a result, Jaime Thomas was started as a forward/winger when he's usually played as a defender. This wasn't a huge stretch because our left and right backs tend to work very far forward, but it's definitely not our typical line up.

Aaron Wheeler was kept off as a sub rather than playing the full 90 minutes. That was significant because once he was subbed on, it changed how Bethlehem was defending and I think it helped lead to the Harrisburg goal.

EV: I thought, from a Steel perspective, that was one of our best first 45s all season - if not ever. Cory Burke and Matt Real (who, is actually only 17) linked up incredibly well, and Chris Nanco was a huge threat for the half he was on.

James Chambers deserved that goal and if Seku Conneh doesn't go up for that ball, Burke posts up Sean Lewis and makes it 2-0 early on. Not that the City Islanders attack wasn't threatening, but there was no one to play off Pedro Ribiero - which was kinda frustrating for me to watch. I was also incredibly relieved to not see Wheels until late in the second half, as his favorite thing is to cause my anxiety to skyrocket score against his former employer.

CB: Yeah Bethlehem really controlled the first half. Nanco had us dead to rights in the 17th minute, but he overthought it and tried to go for a pass that wasn't there. He should have just taken the shot on that one (it happened right in front of us).

It was good to see Harrisburg respond when they went down a goal. They really pushed the attack to close out the first half, although it didn't get them anything. Then to give up that second goal so early in the second half was a total heart breaker. Based on how the first half went down, I couldn't imagine who was going to score two goals from us. Pedro was completely covered up, and we were having no luck crossing balls into the box.

It was Sean Lewis starting in goal yesterday. That was only his second ever start for us. He has other professional experience, but he's still something of an unknown quantity. He did a solid job, I can't put the blame for the goals on him. I liked how he was coming out hard in the second half to collect the balls coming towards him, although that was also super stressful. My heart stopped when he nearly gave up that chip in the 72nd minute.

EV: I don’t think I’m giving away any huge game plan, but I swear Cory tries that chip every other game. Usually when the keeper is much more centered on goal. Thought he had one there but alas, it wasn’t to be. I thought the Steel FC attack was really sharp though with Seku and Cory tearing it up. Odd to see the high press after you got burned a few times early or was that expected?

CB: Yeah I was surprised that we got burned on that so much. In other matches this year, we didn't have so much of a problem getting back on defense. But I don't think calling it off was ever really an option. That's just how Harrisburg plays it.

EV: I will say I thought Matt Real had a great game, and Ken Tribbett looked like a completely different player at central defensive midfielder, which was encouraging for a guy who was treading all kinds of water in MLS. Your final takeaway before we part until the third tie between the two clubs?

CB: My final thought is, it's a good thing that the City Islanders have some time off coming up. They need to rest up and regroup because if they don't find a way to start getting more points, there's no way they finish above the red line for the playoffs.