Early on in this incredibly physical match, it looked to be all Bethlehem Steel FC. Literally from the first whistle it was a yellow card for Onua Obasi, followed almost immediately by a sloppy handball by Andrae Campbell. The usually reliable Cory Burke stepped up, but for what I believe is the first time this season, his spot kick was parried away by Callum Irving. Steel, who had over 70 percent of the ball in the first half, kept on testing Irving, who was finally bested by a Seku Conneh laser from about 20 yards out. Ken Tribbett did well to skirt around a few Fury midfielders, teeing up Conneh for a shot that the young Liberian couldn’t help but put a foot through
If anything, it looked like Steel were good for a second goal in the closing moments of the first half, with Marcus Epps cutting inside and testing Irving with a few shots - one of which would have beat just about any other goalkeeper in USL. After the break it was a bit more nervy, as the Ottawa Fury started to settle in and play their brand of football, which is deemed physical by some and maybe a bit dirty by others. Callum Irving would take pretty much every Ottawa free kick, lofting the ball to Tucker Hume, and then Ottawa would try to break out from the hold up play.
Fury FC seemed destined to equalize, with a variety of chances that were turned away, including a great chase down block by recent Philadelphia Union Academy graduate Mark McKenzie. Ottawa got their goal, as Ryan Williams broke down the sideline, chipping a ball into Michael Salazar, who headed the ball calmly past John McCarthy. Poor marking between the first time pairing of Josh Yaro and McKenzie seemed to be the culprit for the Fury equalizer. From there was a duo of subs, with Hugh Roberts coming on for Yaro (who actually looked pretty good last night) and Matt Mahoney coming on for Giliano Wijnaldum seemed to indicate Steel weren’t too confident in their ability to find a second. Santi Moar saw some time as well, subbing on for Cory Burke, but a few mis-hit passes probably have Santi wanting this cameo appearance back.
Bethlehem get their first draw of the season that had Brendan Burke calling it “a draw that felt like a loss,” and Fury FC Head Coach Paul Dalglish was buzzing about his team who had played five matches in just over two weeks.
Some quick notes for your consideration:
-Seku Conneh scored again, which would be his sixth on the season and gives him the standalone record for goals in a season. His twenty third minute strike separated him from last year’s co-record holders in the Philadelphia Union’s Derrick Jones and the New York Cosmos’ Ryan Richter.
-Ken Tribbett continues to show signs of life in his new/old position of CDM. His tackling seems to be improving a bit week in and week out and his ability to pass the ball has been impressive. He offers the ability for James Chambers to roam the field a bit more, which is something the Irishman seems prone to do.
-Steel pick up their first draw of the 2017 season. After 11 draws (11!) last year, their ability to go for the win (especially at home) has been a nice change.
Bethlehem will be on the road for the rest of June, with their next match on June 11th against another first time opponent in Saint Louis FC. We’ll have all the coverage you’ll need on that one, so stay tuned!