Saturday, August 11, 2012
RICHMOND, Va. – The Richmond Kickers held on to claim a narrow 2-1 victory over a spirited Harrisburg City Islanders side on Saturday night at City Stadium, thanks in part to a host of saves by retiring goalkeeper Ronnie Pascale.
The match began at blistering pace, with both sides eager to gain points to bolster their end-of-season playoff push. The Kickers created the first chance of the match in the ninth minute when Ryan Heins found an unmarked Matthew Delicâte at the penalty spot, but the striker turned his shot just wide of the post.
Richmond capitalized on some good fortune to claim the opening goal in the 13th minute. Kickers defender Luke Vercollone dribbled his way to the top of the penalty area and shot, but it deflected off a Harrisburg defender. The ball ricocheted in the box to Stanley Nyazamba, who drove his shot off the underside of the crossbar and into the net for a 1-0 lead.
Harrisburg made the most of some luck as well a minute later when Kickers defender William Yomby’s attempted clearance away from striker Garret Pettis flew into the Richmond net to lock the score at 1-1.
Pascale, playing in his final regular-season home game, was called into action for the first time in the 17th minute when he closed down the angle and saved Yann Ekra’s close-range effort. Pascale appeared to pick up an injury on the play, but carried on.
Islanders midfielder Bilal Duckett was the first Harrisburg player to beat Pascale with a shot in the 30th minute, but his long-range strike cannoned off the outside of the crossbar. Pascale made another big save late in the first half when he denied Pettis, who was one-on-one with the keeper following a through ball from J.T. Noone.
The Kickers piled on the pressure in the early stages of the second half, narrowly missing the goal on three occasions before the 60th minute. Gerson dos Santos added another effort in the 77th minute, but Islanders goalkeeper Nick Noble made a diving save to deny the Brazilian a second goal in as many games.
Richmond’s pressure paid off in the 78th minute when Yomby redeemed his own goal with a towering header into the far corner of the net from Nyazamba’s cross. Harrisburg pressed for a late equalizer, but couldn’t put the ball past Pascale, who recorded his sixth save of the night in the 89th minute to seal a vital three points for the Kickers. The victory moves the Kickers into fourth place in the USL PRO standings, ahead of the City Islanders and the Wilmington Hammerheads entering the final week of the season.
The Richmond Kickers will close out the final two games of the season in Antigua, as they take on the Barracudas August 17th and 19th. For more information, please visit www.RichmondKickers.com.