BETHLEHEM, PA (BETHLEHEM STEEL) – For the first time in club history, Bethlehem Steel FC owns a winning streak. Josh Heard and Derrick Jones each contributed first-half goals and halftime sub Gabe Gissie scored in the second half as the Steel earned a 3-0 victory against Wilmington Hammerheads FC on Thursday in an Eastern Conference matinee at Goodman Stadium. The three goals also represent a season-high mark for Bethlehem. Fresh off a 2-0 win against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Sunday, Bethlehem picked up where it left off as Heard and Jones tallied in the 28th and 42nd minutes, respectively, to provide the Steel with a two-goal cushion heading into halftime. The 19-year-old Gissie notched his first tally of the season in the second half. Bethlehem moved to 2-0-0 on an important six-game home stand that runs through Aug. 7. With the win, the Steel improved to 6-6-6 (24 points) overall and 4-2-2 at home. Wilmington falls to 6-6-5 (23 points) overall and 3-4-2 on the road. This was the second and final regular-season matchup between the two sides as the Steel move to 1-0-1 against the Hammerheads, following up a 1-1 draw on June 17 at Legion Stadium.
28’ – BST – Josh Heard
42’ – BST – Derrick Jones (Ryan Richter)
54’ – BST – Gabe Gisse (Cory Burke)
Three Things That Mattered:
- 1. Bethlehem’s productive first half generated two scores in the span of less than 15 minutes. Josh Heard orchestrated an impressive individual effort in the 28th minute, working the ball up the left side, splitting Wilmington’s Mael Corboz and Ashani Fairclough to get the ball to his right and from 16 yards out fired it home for a 1-0 lead. Then in the 42nd minute, Ryan Richter sent the ball over the Hammerheads’ defense to Derrick Jones who gained a couple steps on Wilmington’s back line. He was one-on-one with Wilmington goalkeeper Eric Ati, who slipped briefly in anticipation of the shot. Jones slotted his shot past Ati into the right of the frame for a two-goal advantage and his third goal of the season.
- 2. Bethlehem earned its seventh clean sheet of the season and second in a row. Steel goalkeeper John McCarthy maintained the shutout, never really needing to make a difficult save as his front line limited Wilmington’s chances significantly throughout the match. The Steel did, however, concede two shots off of the right post – one on the Hammerheads’ quick restart on a second-half set piece and then in the closing minutes on a corner kick opportunity – but the Hammerheads could never cash in. Wilmington’s defense, on the flip side, has been prone to allowing some goals over the past month and a half. For the fourth time in their past seven matches, the Hammerheads have allowed two or more goals in a game. In Wilmington’s first 10 matches of the season, the club had allowed two goals in a match only once.
- 3. If anyone else deserved a goal Thursday, it probably was Bethlehem’s James Chambers who had an effective opening half. Off of a set piece sequence, Ryan Richter set up Chambers above the box and Chambers’ right-footed strike ricocheted off of the right post in the 32nd minute. Then three minutes later, Chambers again from outside the box took a crack at goal, but Wilmington’s Fairclough headed the ball over the crossbar to concede a Steel corner kick.
Bethlehem, PA (HAMMERHEADS) – Thursday afternoon, Bethlehem Steel FC welcomed the Wilmington Hammerheads to Goodman Stadium for their second encounter of the season.
Wilmington and Bethlehem currently sit one seed away from one another, representing ninth and tenth place. Head coach Mark Briggs stated before the match, “We are hoping for a win today, but both teams are closely talented.”
Bethlehem’s #45 James Chambers started the home team quick on the offense, with a close corner kick in the 4th minute. Following shortly, in the 5th minute, Bethlehem’s #44 Ryan Richter took a free kick, finding #35 Derrick Jones, who put it just over the net. Already heading into the 6th minute of the first half, Bethlehem had two close opportunities to score, setting the tone for the match.
Bethlehem dominated the first quarter of the half, keeping the ball in Wilmington’s defensive end, where they continually tested goalkeeper, Eric Ati.
Despite Wilmington’s efforts, #40 Joshua Heard scored Bethlehem’s first goal of the match in the 28th minute. After an attempted dive by Ati, Heard’s shot landed in the right corner of the net. After Heard’s goal, the Pennsylvania team continued to control the ball. In the 31st minute, Chambers fired a shot hitting the right post deflecting across an open net. Jones brought Bethlehem to a 2-0 lead in the 42nd minute, wrapping up the first half action.
Coming off of a challenging first half, Wilmington fought back, starting the second half with a little more energy. In the 50th minute, #19 Jeff Michaud crossed the ball to #22 Kyle Parker with a header inside the 18 only to be saved by goalkeeper #27 John McCarthy.
As Wilmington continued to search for their groove, an accidental assist by Wilmington in the 53rd minute resulted in Bethlehem’s #37 Gabriel Gissie’s goal; bringing the match to 3-0.
Bethlehem found Wilmington on an off day, walking away with a 3-0 win. Only two yellow cards were given throughout the game; one to Bethlehem in the 66th minute, and one to Wilmington in the 87th.
Coach Briggs stated, “It’s extremely disappointing to lose to a team we could have competed so closely against. We have to work harder than we have all season to reach a playoff position now.” He continued, “We return home to prepare for our match against the number one team in our division. We’ve got a challenging weekend ahead and need to bounce back quickly.”
Don’t miss Wilmington’s next home game, THIS Sunday, July 17th at 6:00pm at Legion Stadium. Fans please note, the game time has changed from 3:00pm to 6:00pm. All tickets purchased before this time change will be honored. Come cheer on Wilmington as they take on Louisville City FC! Call 910.777.2111 or visit wilmingtonhammerheads.com to purchase your tickets today.