Anytime a team can go five games in a row without losing, there's a sense of validation. Given that Steel FC are on such a streak, you'd be fine to wonder if the game against bottom-of-the-table FC Montreal was the one where they'd slip up.
Seku Conneh only needed two minutes to show what kind of a threat he would pose to the young FC Montreal back line as he broke through and took a touch to settle the ball before shooting wide of FCM keeper James Pantemis. Through the first 20 minutes it was pretty much all Steel FC with four Bethlehem players notching five shots in the half. FC Montreal didn't back down however and took the lead on 25 minutes when David Choiniere put a great strike into the top-right corner of Matt Jones's net to put the slumping visitors in front.
After what was clearly a frustrating first half, and a pretty tough locker-room talk at halftime according to Brendan Burke, Steel FC came out hungry. They started to pelt the Montreal net much like the rain that was on and off the whole day in the Lehigh Valley. Seku Conneh had five shots in the second half and could have done better to turn in at least three of those. Persistence pays off, and after James Pantemis came out to try and keep Leo Fernandes from scoring the equalizer by pulling his right shoulder, Steel FC captain Ryan Richter stepped up to take the penalty. Richter might have been a bit fortunate to have hit the ball hard enough to negate a good diving effort by Pantemis, but the score was tied.
Corey Burke was someone I had talked about almost too much this preseason. The highly praised young Jamaican forward played a great preseason before picking up a knee injury that put him out for the first seven games of the year. He immediately made an impact for Steel FC. Coming on for Seku Conneh in the 74th minute, Burke won a second Steel FC penalty that was converted by Derrick Jones. The penalty wasn't the best part of this play in the slightest.
When Montreal attempted a short free kick late in the game, James Chambers did well to see it coming and block it accordingly. The ball then fell to pro debutant and future University of Virginia Cavalier, Raheem Taylor-Parkes. Being closed down by two FC Montreal players didn't deter RT-P from his idea and he played one of the best balls I've seen all year up to the streaking Cory Burke, who cut inside of Kyle Fisher and won the penalty. Derrick Jones, who, by the way, won the right to the penalty kick by being the first guy to collect the ball, took it to the left side of Pantemis and gave Steel FC a 2-1 lead that would hold until full time. With the win, Bethlehem now occupy the eight and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Next week Steel FC travel to take on Harrisburg City Islanders City FC (or whatever that mess is) Sunday at six. Want to know more about that game? Keep it here at Brotherly Game for all the updates, analysis, and banter that you'd expect from two Pennsylvania soccer teams playing on a baseball field.