Hammerheads get back into playoff contention with home win
WILMINGTON, NC (HAMMERHEADS) — For the first time this season the Wilmington Hammerheads hosted Orlando City B at Legion Stadium for a mid-week match.
Wilmington began the match in eleventh place, while Orlando sat in eighth. At the kick-off, Orlando maintained more control of the field, as Wilmington tried to settle each ball.
A close attempt for Wilmington happened in the 10th minute where a fumble by goalkeeper #50, Mark Ridgers caused a “pile-up” right in front of Orlando’s goal.
Wilmington fought to find the back of the net, but was blocked by the strong defense.
Halfway through the first half and while Orlando dominated the ball, Wilmington began to grasp their footing and counterattack. Orlando’s speed continued to accelerate them during their offensive attacks, leaving room for Wilmington, playing a 3-5-2, to apply pressure of their own.
#2 Tom Parratt sent a beautifully placed cross to #9 Matthew Barnes Homer in the 18th minute, only to be snagged mid-air by Ridgers. Another shot on goal came in the 20th minute when #22 Kyle Parker attempted to volley a cross, again, caught by Ridgers.
At the 30th minute mark, Wilmington and Orlando were playing evenly, providing opportunities to score, and counterattacking quickly.
Dangerous in Wilmington’s defensive end, Orlando took a free kick in the 40th minute. #53 Craig Nitti took the kick, which was block by Wilmington’s wall. #16 Devron Garcia attempted a rebound shot, just over the goal.
The half continued with both teams fighting for a goal, but ended scoreless.
After an uneventful first half, Wilmington applied pressure with short passes, keeping the ball in Orlando’s end. #19 Jeff Michaud fired the shot scoring the first goal of the match, assisted by Barnes-Homer, in the 48th minute.
Wilmington continued with their momentum and fired another close shot in the 54th minute, just grazing the top of the net. With ambitions high, Orlando was now a step behind the ball. Quickly following, Michaud fired a low cross in the 56th minute, requiring Ridgers to make a diving save.
This shot put Wilmington at four shots, two of which were on goal.
Orlando counterattacked on a breakaway, only to be blocked by defender #47 Ashani Fairclough deep in the box.
In the 68th minute a foul against Orlando resulted in a penalty kick, taken by #23 Bruno Perone in the 70th minute, making that his seventh goal of the season.
Wilmington now led 2-0, controlling the ball, while Orlando fought to re-gain control and equalize the game late in the second half.
In the 76th minute, Michaud took a corner where Perone attempted a header, skimming the crossbar and going high.
Perone didn’t hold back when he caught a rebound in the 18-yard and placed the ball in the bottom right corner in the 78th minute, making it his second of the game and his eight of the season. #6 Liam Miller on the assist.
After a month struggling to come away with a win, Wilmington walked away with a 3-0 shutout in front of a crowd of 1,073 fans, despite being a Wednesday match. Perone stated, “I am thrilled because we earned three points tonight. I scored two of the three goals and felt I played a strong defensive game.” He continued, “The most important part is that we won and kept the playoff dream alive.”
Don’t miss Wilmington’s next home match on Sunday, September 11th at 3pm at Legion Stadium, where they will challenge FC Cincinnati. You can purchase tickets by calling 910.777.2111 or visit wilmingtonhammerheads.com today!