Kickers 2-0 Hammerheads
WILMINGTON, NC – The Richmond Kickers claimed a 2-0 win in Wilmington Friday night during their first road trip of the season and the opening leg of a back-to-back weekend. Veteran midfielder Luke Vercollone converted a second half penalty to give the visitors the lead before 17-year old forward Michael Seaton notched the decisive goal in stoppage time in his professional debut.
Wilmington saw the first good chance of the night when defender Uriah Bentick whipped in a cross from the left side of the box. Midfielder Will Heaney tested Kickers goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra early when he won the ball in the air but his header whizzed just wide of the target.
Despite the early pressure, it was the visitors who nearly opened scoring in the 33rd minute when midfielder Nate Robinson fired a determined strike from the right flank. His effort skimmed the underside of the crossbar before falling to Michael Seaton, parked at the left post, but the 17-year old forward’s attempt to bury the rebound was ruled offside.
Just before the break, the Hammerheads nearly capitalized on a long throw-in deep in the left corner when forward Christian Davidson served the ball into the box, only to see it ricochet out to the top of the 18. A well-positioned Arron Patrick rushed onto the loose ball and unleashed a driven shot into the pack but his attempt was cleared by Kickers defenders.
Following the restart, the Hammerheads pressed for the icebreaker when Parratt fired a powerful distance shot that forced Dykstra to dive to his right as the ball whistled just passed the upright.
The scales tipped in favor of the away side 20 minutes later when Vercollone stole the ball at midfield and steamrolled through the field towards the box. Approaching the 18 yard line, he fed the ball to Joseph Ngwenya who was denied by Bentick. Kickers defender Alex Lee delivered the resulting throw-in and once again found an onrushing Ngwenya who sent his second consecutive shot skyward.
Then, in attempt to block Robinon’s shot from the top of the box, a Wilmington defender’s handball inches from the 18 yard line earned the Kickers a penalty. Vercollone stepped up to the spot and calmly slotted the ball into the right corner to take the lead.
With two minutes remaining in regulation, the Hammerheads searched for the equalizer when Heaney’s inswinging corner kick connected with Bentick but his close range header sailed just over the crossbar.
Kickers 3-3 Eagles
RICHMOND, VA – The Richmond Kickers rallied for a thrilling 3-3 draw against the Charlotte Eagles on a brisk spring Saturday evening at City Stadium. The home side claimed an early advantage courtesy of goals by Brian Ownby and Stanley Nyazamba, only to concede a pair of tallies as Drew Yates and Stefan Smith leveled the score in the second half. Eagles forward Shaun Francis broke the deadlock in the 90th minute, leaving Kickers defender Conor Shanosky to bury the equalizer with seconds remaining in stoppage time to salvage a point.
Despite the dramatic finish, the match got off to a slow start until the Eagles challenged Dykstra in the 13th minute. Midfielder Sam Asante sliced through the midfield and played a long ball to Ben Newman deep on the right flank. The Eagles defender served the ball to the far post to an awaiting Jorge Herrera but the Kickers goalkeeper easily collected his shot and cleared it out to the midfield where Ownby collected the loose ball and carried it into Eagles territory. Beating his last defender, he faced goalkeeper Eric Reed 1v1 and calmly played a soft ball into the far right corner as the Eagles goalkeeper charged off his line to give the Kickers a 1-0 lead.
Fueled by his first goal, Ownby turned playmaker in the 34th minute when he battled for the ball at the top of the box. The heavily marked midfielder got a nod off as Nyazamba rushed onto his header and slotted a low ball inside the right post from 12 yards to send the Kickers into the locker room with a 2-0 advantage.
Following the restart, the Eagles cut the deficit in half when Francis received a long ball and slid it across the goal mouth, finding Yates at the left post who made no mistake from point blank range.
Gaining momentum, Dykstra weathered a barrage of shots, throwing his body into the line of fire but the Eagles persistence paid off in the 78th minute when a heroic save resulted in a Charlotte corner. Midfielder Mitch Waul delivered an inswinger into the mix, finding Smith who deftly played the ball over the goalkeeper’s fingertips and into the back of the net.
With less than five minutes remaining, the Kickers struck the crossbar and watched a dangerous free kick whistle just over the woodwork before Francis’ lofted ball from the top of the box skimmed just underneath the bar for what was sure to be the game-winner.
The Eagles celebrations were cut short in stoppage time when the Kickers capped off scoring with seconds left in regulation. Forward Casey Townsend flicked the ball on to Sascha Görres on the right flank who whipped the ball across the box to Nate Robinson on the left wing but the midfielder’s header was cleared off the line for a corner. As the ball swooped into the crowded box, 17-year old Michael Seaton fired a shot that rebounded off the underside of the crossbar and fell to the feet of Shanosky who tapped it over the line.