Well faithful readers, I feel like I owe you an apology. Someone (okay it was me) said that you shouldn’t expect to see another 0-0 draw between Penn FC and Pittsburgh on Saturday. Sure, both teams have been great defensively in 2018, but Pittsburgh has some major offensive weapons and Penn FC has scored five goals in their last two matches. Somebody’s got to get a goal when these two teams play, right?
Forgive me if I don’t go through another blow by blow of this most recent match. Especially because the resulting recap would read pretty similar to the one I wrote back when they met in week two of the season. There was some stellar defensive play, big-time saves by the goalkeepers, lots of time spent with the ball bouncing around the midfield, and Pittsburgh’s Romeo Parkes blowing some of his best goal scoring opportunities.
The scoreless draw didn’t feel inevitable, and each side had two solid chances to put away the goal that would have gotten them all three points. Penn FC almost managed it in the first half when Aaron Dennis was one on one with Pittsburgh goalkeeper Dan Lynd. But Lynd made the heads-up play to close down on Dennis and he managed to get a hand on his attempt to chip the ball into the net. It was one of the few times Penn FC got a foot on the ball near the goal as they only had one shot from inside the box all evening.
The remainder of Penn FC’s scoring opportunities came from outside the box, including a dangerous one in the 82nd minute. Richard Menjivar collected a short clearance outside the box and let it fly for the right side of the net. It was reminiscent of Miguel Jaime’s goal against FC Motown. But this time the keeper managed to get a hand on it at full stretch and push it onto the post. The rebound hit him in the back, but Lynd was spared the own goal and it was only a corner kick.
Pittsburgh kept Penn FC goalkeeper Romu Peiser busy the entire night, but his five saves kept the Riverhounds offense frustrated. But it was the saves he didn’t have to make that Pittsburgh will remember the longest.
The Riverhounds had at least three opportunities to net what looked like open goals, but they failed to finish each time. Kevin Kerr had a chance to shoot in a rebound in the 24th minute, but he skied it over the crossbar instead. Romeo Parkes had a beautiful chance in the second minute of stoppage time as he collected the rebound off a hard Joseph Holland shot from distance. Peiser was on the ground after making the save and Parkes had an open net, but he struck the ball poorly and it went wide right.
There didn’t seem like there was enough time for either side to break the draw as Penn FC made a throw-in with only about twenty seconds of added time remaining. But the Riverhounds made the steal and Holland slid a through ball into a wide-open Neco Brett who buried in the back of the net. Brett stripped off his jersey and the Steel Army popped smoke, but the flag was up for offside. The replay showed that the call was made on the thinnest of margins and Brett was only about a foot away from etching his name into Riverhounds lore. Instead, he picked up a yellow card for excessive celebration for a goal that didn’t count.
Based on how the final seconds unfolded, Penn FC left the field happy to secure a point while the Riverhounds players were reportedly chewed out at midfield for almost fifteen minutes. Head Boach Bob Lilley did not mince words during the post-game wrap-up, and he made it clear that he found the draw unacceptable.
But Penn FC shouldn’t be satisfied either as they too were only one shot away from taking all three points Saturday night. It felt like the time off had actually left the team a little rusty and it took them some time to get back into the flow of things. Hopefully they will be able to get the offense clicking again soon. They’re traveling to Nashville next week in what’s shaping up to be another defensive struggle.
- After last weekend’s results, Pittsburgh still sits at the top of the Eastern Conference with only five goals allowed in ten matches. But Penn FC is right behind them with only seven goals allowed. That’s tied with Louisville for third-best in the east.
- While each team will remember the biggest missed opportunities mentioned above, they also had several occasions each where they made some key passes in the box that no one was able to get on the end of. Just another example of players being not quite in sync on Saturday night.
- With two scoreless draws this season, the fate of the 2018 Keystone Derby Cup will be decided on Wednesday, September 26th at FNB Field in Harrisburg. A win for either side would secure the cup, but yet another draw would require some complicated tiebreakers to come into play. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that.