PITTSBURGH (July 4, 2019) - Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (6-2-7) defeated Bethlehem Steel FC (5-9-4), 1-0, Thursday night at Highmark Stadium.
Kenardo Forbes led the way for the Black and Gold, scoring the lone goal of the match in the 57th minute. The win marked the fourth victory in as many games for the Hounds, and their third clean sheet during that stretch.
Pittsburgh and Bethlehem began the first half timidly, with slick field conditions contributing to the slow start for both teams. The two Pennsylvania clubs traded possessions back and forth with no shots collected between either club in the first 20 minutes of play.
Pittsburgh’s first shot occurred at the 21st minute mark from Forbes, who missed left of the net. Pittsburgh’s attack continued with Tobi Adewole following up Forbes’ chance with a header in front of the Bethlehem goalkeeper in the 23rd minute, also missing wide of the net.
Bethlehem had few opportunities in the half, with its closest coming from a powerful boot from midfielder James Chambers missing to the far left of Pittsburgh’s goalkeeper Kyle Morton in the 28th minute.
Riverhounds forward Christian Volesky created several offensive opportunities across the pitch for Pittsburgh. The Hounds’ best chance in the half developed on a Bethlehem broken play with Volesky driving up the right sideline. The striker’s blast in the 32nd minute missed wide right from inside the 18-yard box, eventually sailing into the Steel Army supporter section.
A yellow card was awarded to Bethlehem defender Matt Real in the 36th minute with an on-ball foul on Pittsburgh’s Jordan Dover just outside the 18-yard box. Pittsburgh’s free kick opportunity missed left of the net.
The Riverhounds and Steel FC exchanged chances until the end of the half, still knotted up 0-0.
The Riverhounds dominated the shot department in the first 45 minutes, posting six total shots compared to Bethlehem’s two. However, neither team was successful in creating an on-target shot in the first half.
The Black and Gold opened up the second half with a corner kick in the 52nd minute.
Forbes lofted the opportunity into the goalmouth, finding the head of Steevan Dos Santos. The forward placed the header over the net, and the score remained tied at 0-0.
Just five minutes later, Forbes lined up for a free kick chance just outside the penalty area. The midfielder ripped a rocket out of the reach of Bethlehem’s diving goalkeeper and into the upper right corner of the net to give the club a 1-0 lead.
The Hounds nearly struck again in the 65th minute with a scramble in front of the net leading to several offensive chances. Kevin Kerr and Volesky sent shots toward the cage, but were fought off by a combination of Bethlehem’s backline and goalkeeper.
Bethlehem finally earned their first shot of the second half in the 85th minute, but Kyle Morton fielded the harmless chance with ease.
Morton would go on to finish the game unscathed, without having to make a single save in the contest.
Steel FC couldn’t find any offensive rhythm in the game’s final minutes, and the Black and Gold walked out with their fourth consecutive victory.
Hound of the Match:
The goal from Kenardo Forbes was all Riverhounds SC needed to grab a victory on Thursday night. Forbes finished with a total of two shots in the win, adding four key passes to his stat line as well.
Stat of the Game: 0
Pittsburgh’s backline brought the Steel Curtain down against its cross-state rivals, holding Steel FC without a single shot on target in the victory.
It will be a quick turnaround for the Black and Gold, as they head south to take on Charlotte Independence at 7 p.m. this Sunday at Sportsplex at Matthews. The match will be streamed live on ESPN+.
Riverhounds SC - Kyle Morton - Dani Rovira (Ryan James 63’), Tobi Adewole, Joe Greenspan, Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Jordan Dover - Sammy Kahsai (Robbie Mertz 74’), Kenardo Forbes, Kevin Kerr - Steevan Dos Santos, Christian Volesky (Mark Forrest 87’)
Subs Not Used: Austin Pack, Uchenna Uzo, Anthony Velarde, Neco Brett
Bethlehem Steel FC - Tomas Romero - Walter Cortes, Matthew Real, Mark McKenzie, Nathan Harriel - Cole Turner - James Chambers, Zach Zandi, Chavany Willis (Steve Kingue 86’), Issa Rayyan (Axel Picazo 75’) - Faris Pemi Moumbagna (Shanyder Borgelin 86’)
Subs Not Used: Brady McSwain, Michee Ngalina, Selmir Miscic, Ben Ofeimu
PIT: Kenardo Forbes 57’
BST: Matthew Real 36’ (caution)
BST: Chavany Willis 49’ (caution)
PIT: Dani Rovira 53’ (caution)
BST: James Chambers 72’ (caution)
PIT: Tobi Adewole 74’ (caution)
PIT: Joe Greenspan 90’ (caution)
Head coach Bob Lilley
On the physical nature of the match...
"They're athletically a very tough out, they're big kids. Even the younger ones are solid. They're solid, they're athletic. We had to deny space, which I think we did a good job with. We did a good job of limiting their space, the defenders did a good job of covering each other, because they're explosive. We were able to use our experience and manage the game pretty efficiently."
On the importance of tonight's win...
"As we climb the table, we're going to have to win these types of games. I think with people below you in the standings, you're always going to be a massive target. People are trying to drag us back and we're trying to keep climbing. It was a more significant game than most would typically think."
On Christian Volesky's performance...
"It's tough, he had some injuries early in the year. Steevan [Dos Santos] and Neco [Brett] have gotten into a pretty good rhythm. It's tough when you're rotating the spot. Christian is dangerous. He gets in good areas. If he could've cleaned some things up, he's maybe the best we have at getting in behind defenses. He reads things well.
On load management with two games in just four days...
"We rested enough guys that we should have some fresh legs for Sunday. I know Charlotte played tonight, so they'll probably have some squad rotation. The trick was to try to take some educated risks so we could get the points and still have enough for Sunday. Part one is done, hopefully the guys that are asked to step on the field on Sunday are ready for a good Charlotte team recently."
Midfielder Kenardo Forbes
Were you thinking about scoring a goal with the free kick…
“Yeah, because in the first half I crossed the first one and tricked the goalkeeper. He was looking for the cross, and I just surprised him.”
Did you know the ball was in when you shot it…
“That is a celebration. That was a celebration. As soon as I hit it, I knew it was in.”
Feeling of a four-game winning streak currently…
“It is a great feeling. Three games at home, and won all three games. The guys are confident going into Charlotte. I hope we can keep it going on the road.”