Just a week ago, Penn FC picked up a victory over their in-state rivals the Bethlehem Steel that gave them a six match unbeaten streak as well as a place in the top eight of the USL Eastern Conference. Everything was coming up roses for the boys in blue. But then they dropped a tough match against Richmond and on Saturday afternoon they fell to Ottawa after allowing them to score twice in the second half. It’s just two matches, but they need to use the upcoming bye week to try and recapture some of the magic of from their unbeaten run in June.
Penn FC went with a few changes to their lineup after Monday’s match. Dan Metzger has been solid in the midfield, but he was out while he served a one match suspension for yellow card accumulation. It was actually Jake Bond who filled much of his role as Penn FC went back to more of the three center back defense that they used earlier in the season. While that usually helped them stand strong defensively, they struggled to score when they were in that formation.
Their offensive struggles were apparent during much of the first half as both teams spent a good chunk of time feeling each other out. Penn FC didn’t get many solid chances until the final minutes in the half, which fits in with their issues with playing on turf that they’ve dealt with this season. It was Ottawa’s Adonijah Reid who came the closest to scoring in the 17th minute when Penn FC keeper Romu Peiser was out of position after a clearance, but his shot bounced off of the left post. Both teams had to settle for a 0-0 scoreline at the half.
Penn FC knew they needed to score, so they went back to what was their bread and butter earlier in the season, corner kicks. And wouldn’t you know it, it was captain Ken Tribbett who came up to head another one home. While his past headers where from fairly close range, this header was a powerful one from approximately twelve yards out. His fifth goal of the year put Penn FC up 1-0.
Ottawa didn’t lose their cool after going down a goal, and they brought on Daniel Haber and Cristian Portilla to bump up the offensive pressure. They only had a few quality chances, but it was Tony Taylor who finally equalized in the 72nd minute. Rather than going the direct route, Taylor went for a chip while battling inside the box that managed to arc its way into the back of the net.
Ottawa kept up the momentum and it was Haber, who was making his debut, who helped generate several of the chances. All of the time spent on the attack paid off in the 80th minute when Ottawa was awarded a penalty when Steevan Dos Santos connected with Tribbett inside the box. Dos Santos took the penalty himself, and he buried up to put Ottawa up 2-1.
Now that they had the lead for the first time, it was up to Ottawa’s goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau to keep Penn FC from finding the equalizer. Crepeau has been nothing short of fantastic for Ottawa in recent weeks, and Saturday would be no exception. Penn FC nearly equalized twice in the 88th minute, but Prince Baffoe’s shot was just wide and Crepeau was able to make a solid save to deny a shot from Richard Menjivar. Penn FC couldn’t find another goal in about five minutes of stoppage time and Ottawa held on for the 2-1 win at home.
- Penn FC gets a bye week now as they won’t play again until 7/28. That should be a good opportunity to rest up and hopefully have a few players return to the lineup who have been missing time recently.
- While it’s usually worrisome when a team goes on an extended road trip, Penn FC has shown that they play well on the road when they’re only playing about once a week. So hopefully they’ll be able to start picking up points as they go through the remaining six matches of their road trip.
- Lucky Mkosana’s scoring streak ends at five matches. If Penn FC wants to get back into their winning ways, they’re going to want to get him scoring again soon.