Harrisburg City Islanders / USL - Bethlehem Steel FC / USL Match report

Match Report: Bethlehem Steel FC 3 – Harrisburg City Islanders 1

Photo courtesy USL

For the first time in their history, Bethlehem Steel have beaten the Harrisburg City Islanders.

The final score late Sunday afternoon was Bethlehem 3 Harrisburg 1.

  • James Chambers scored the Steel’s opener in the 39th minute on a free kick from Aaron Jones, turning a drab wet blanket of a game into a contest.
  • Seku Conneh took an excellent feed from halftime substitute Yosef Samuel to beat City Islanders goalkeeper Sean Lewis easily from distance in the 49th.
  • 59th minute Harrisburg substitute Danny DiPrima took an excellent goal in the 80th from outside the box, after an initial Steel clearance of a free kick fell uncontested, to create real drama for the final ten minutes.
  • And 88th minute Steel substitute Josh Heard was taken down from behind in the penalty box, with Cory Burke burying the consequent drama-ender late in stoppage time.

A clear factor in the victory is Harrisburg’s U. S. Open Cup game this coming Wednesday against Reading United. The winner will face the Philadelphia Union in the following round.

Judging by the lineup City Islanders head coach Bill Becher put on the pitch at Goodman Stadium Sunday, he badly wants to beat Reading and face the Union. One key Harrisburg offensive player, Cardel Benbow, did not even make the trip, and others spent most of the game on the bench.

Becher started most of his regular defensive six in front of reserve goalkeeper Sean Lewis, but he had an improvised left channel and left Aaron Wheeler and Danny DiPrima on his bench.

Becher’s conservatism was obvious in the first twenty minutes as his defensive restraining line was his own penalty box, with only attempts to counter down the right channel as the primary offensive threat. Central midfielders Rasheed Olabiyi and Mouhamed Dabo stayed tightly positioned in front of their center backs leaving offense to only the front four.

After Harrisburg had assessed the lineup put out by the Steel for twenty minutes, they moved the restraining line forward twenty yards and allowed Olabiyi and Dabo greater freedom to move forward. After halftime, City Island’s low pressure became high pressure, allowing Conneh his chance to stretch the lead but then giving DiPrima the opportunity to score, one of the only threats that came from their left channel the entire game.

Crucial to the Steel’s success were three decisions by their coach.

  • He started Ken Tribbett at defensive center midfielder for injured Chris Wingate, a decision that allowed James Chambers forward into the attacking third upon occasion as the game wore on.
  • He brought on Yosef Samuel at halftime and the academy alum’s offensive energy both triggered Conneh’s goal and started the forward thrust that resulted in the foul on Heard.
  • And of course, he brought on Heard himself, with the speed and energy to get behind his man forcing the penalty kick.
Three Points

Recent Steel Alumni: PSP guesses that both Adam Najem and Giliano Wijnaldum were among the 20 players who travelled to Utah with the first team, even though neither made the 18. Marcus Epps made his MLS debut late in the second half of the match against Real Salt Lake. All three players were early season starters for the Steel.

Steel records:

  • Captain James Chambers set the club record for starts (30), passed Ryan Richter for total minutes played for the club (2,674), and scored his first goal of the season, his fourth for his club career.
  • Seku Conneh tied the club season record for most goals (5) and took the career club lead (6).
  • And Yosef Samuel recorded his first professional point with his assist.

A cautionary note: In the 73rd minute Harrisburg flank midfielder Jonny Mendoza overran the grass at the corner flag on the northwest corner of the pitch, skidded on the immediately adjacent black top, and smashed his right lower leg into the stands beneath the East End Army. It was immediately obvious he could not continue and he was subbed off. He received warm, genuine, appreciative applause from all fans in attendance as he was carried bandaged to the Harrisburg bench.

All present hope the club and the university can devise an effective method to provide temporary traction on that black top during soccer games. Anyone who has ever crossed black top in real cleats knows how helpless Mendoza was to protect himself once he reached the pavement.

Lineups

Bethlehem Steel: Jake McGuire*; Aaron Jones*, Hugh Roberts, Ken Tribbett*, Matt Real; James Chambers , Ken Tribbett*; Cory Burke, Dawson McCartney** (Josue Monge** 75’) , Chris Nanco (Yosef Samuel 46’); Seku Conneh (Josh Heard 88’) Unused Substitutes: Tomas Romero**; Matt Mahoney, Charlie Reymann, , Amoy Brown, * Union Loanee, **Academy Player

Harrisburg City Islanders: Sean Lewis; Shawn McLaws, Tiago Calvano, Lee Nishanian, Abass Mohammed; Mouhamed Diabo, Rasheed Olabiyi (Aaron Wheeler ‘77); Jonny Mendoza (Frederick Yamoah 73’), Paul Wilson (Danny DiPrima 59’), Jamie Thomas; Pedro Ribiero. Unused substitutes: Nick Noble; Jake Bond, Travis Bent, John Grosh.

Referee: Laurent Varga

Scoring Summary:

Bethlehem Steel                     James Chambers (from Aaron Jones)   39’
Bethlehem Steel                     Seku Conneh (from Yosef Samuel)        49’
Harrisburg City Islanders    Danny DiPrima (from Jamie Thomas) 80’
Bethlehem Steel                     Cory Burke – PK                                        90’ + 3

Disciplinary Summary:

Bethlehem Steel                    Matt Real yellow card (foul)                    80’
Bethlehem Steel                    Cory Burke yellow card (high foot)        82’

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