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Reading United and Ocean City Nor’easters split pair of games in battle for playoffs

Reading United has the advantage to advance to the PDL playoffs

Reading United defender Lamine Conte pressure by Ocean City forward Fredlin Mompremier in a game on June 29, 2017
Dave Musante

The two-team race for the second and final playoff berth out of the Mid-Atlantic Division is deadlocked after Reading United and Ocean City Nor’easters split a home-and-home series.

But Reading United’s two games in hand give them the advantage in the final weeks of the season.

Reading was briefly alone in second place after a 2-0 win last Thursday at Wilson High School. But Ocean City Nor’easters defended their home field with a 1-0 win on Sunday night to bring the teams even on 24 points, six behind division leaders New York Red Bulls U23.

Northeastern forward Khori Bennett was the star on Thursday night, scoring less than four minutes in off an assist from Jelani Pieters and doubling the advantage in the 50th minute off an assist from Evan Finnegan. Goalkeeper Ben Lundt made a pair of saves to record the clean sheet.

It could have been worse for Ocean City in the game as goalkeeper Todd Morton (West Chester, Pa.) made six saves in the match. Morton would be the hero back at home on Sunday, making three saves to record his third clean sheet of the season and keep his team’s playoff hopes alive.

Fredlin Mompremier’s penalty kick in the 31st minute was all the offense on the evening with the two teams locked in a defensive battle. Philadelphia Union Academy grad John Schroeder played all 90 minutes on the back line for Ocean City while former academy teammate Will Campbell went 90 minutes for Reading United.

Mompremier’s goal was his team-leading seventh of the season.

Academy grads Lamine Conte and Robert Campbell were in Reading’s back line for Thursday’s shutout while Kevin Carvalho played in both games and Mo Conde came off the bench in the 2-0 win for Reading United.

Lehigh Valley United had the week off, but will face Reading United on Wednesday night at Don Thomas Stadium in Exeter Township. It’s one of two games the two teams will play before the season ends (LVU will host on July 15). Reading United also plays Jersey Express twice while Ocean City will need to make the most of their two remaining games, both at home against first place New York Red Bulls U23 on Sunday and against Lehigh Valley United on July 12.