PITTSBURGH (July 4, 2016) – The Pittsburgh Riverhounds (2-8-4) battled the Harrisburg City Islanders (4-11-2) to a 0-0 draw in round one of the Keystone Derby Cup presented by the Pennsylvania Lottery and K&L Gates at Highmark Stadium.
Steadying the Hounds for their first clean sheet of the season was goalkeeper Mauricio Vargas and the Pittsburgh backline, which allowed only four shots on goal. On the offensive side, Pittsburgh equaled Harrisburg’s shot total at nine, while bettering its opponent in shots on goal with six.
Action got off to a quick start with the Hounds dominating possession for the better part of the first 15 minutes of the match. Their success included a golden opportunity by Marshall Hollingsworth in the fourth minute, who saw his shot beat goalkeeper Nick Noble, but trickle just wide of the far post. Zak Boggs followed up Hollingsworth with a solid chance of his own in the ninth minute, rifling a shot through a defender’s legs at the top of the box only to see Noble make a diving stop.
The playing field leveled considerably following a yellow card to Mike Green in the 14th minute, which forced the City Islanders’ Aaron Wheeler to an early exit.
Harrisburg nabbed two chances resulting in near goals to end the first half. First, in the 32nd minute, Craig Fosterappeared to have netted a mishandled collection by Vargas only for the ref to rule the latter had the possession illegally dislodged. Three minutes later, Jose Barril chipped a sure goal past Vargas, but defender Karsten Smith was able to make a stellar clear at the goal line to keep the match scoreless.
Vargas highlighted a better part of the second half, keeping the City Islanders at bay with a stellar effort in goal. His stop in the 63rd minute was a diving effort that kept a strong shot by Barril through traffic off the board, while he helped pick up Jordan Murrell after a foul with a strong reaction save on a Harrisburg free kick in the 69th minute.
Harrisburg finished the final seven minutes of the second half down a man after Dante Leverock picked up his second yellow card of the match in the 83rd minute. The Hounds would respond with a flurry of chances inside the City Islanders’ box on two occasions, but Noble and the Harrisburg back line held serve to ensure the draw.
Pittsburgh now looks forward to facing the newly-minted USL franchise, Bethlehem Steel FC, on the road next Sunday, July 10 at 4 p.m. The official affiliate of the MLS’ Philadelphia Union, the Steel hold a 4-5-6 in their first season of play.
Riverhounds – Mauricio Vargas – Marshall Hollingsworth (Jordan Murrell 66’) – Karsten Smith – Sergio Campbell – Mike Green – Danny Earls – Lebo Moloto – Kevin Kerr – Zak Boggs (Nick Thompson 77’) – Corey Hertzog – Jack Thompson (Duwayne Ewart 62’)
Subs not used: Hunter Gilstrap, Willie Hunt, Connor Branson, Drew Russell
City Islanders – Nick Noble – Shane Johnson – Liam Doyle – Dante Leverock – Shawn McLaws – Paul Wilson- Bobby Warshaw – Mouhamed Dabo – Josh Hughes (Cardel Benbow 62’) – Jose Barril (Danny DiPrima 90+’) – Aaron Wheeler (Craig Foster 17’ (Garret Pettis 50’))
Subs not used: Keasel Brooke, Matt Bolduc, Brett Jankauskas
PGH- Mike Green 14’ (Caution)
HAR- Bobby Warshaw 45+’ (Caution)
HAR- Dante Leverock 52’ (Caution)
PGH- Duwayne Ewart (Caution)
HAR- Dante Leverock 84’ (Caution-Red Card)
PGH- Sergio Campbell 90+’ (Caution)
Cleveland Brothers “Blue Collar Player of the Game” – Kevin Kerr
Post-Game Quote Sheet
Thought’s on tonight’s performance…
I’m pleased with the physical and emotional effort which is a battle if you’re playing Harrisburg. It was a rainy night and I thought it started brightly and then turned into a war. I was obviously hoping we’d nip one a couple of times, but we didn’t and that’s disappointing, but we battled for sure.
On facing Harrisburg…
I was hoping it might be a pretty match. But yeah I think there are some elements we were showing the past couple of weeks, particularly tonight that have been missing from this team so that’s a positive. But it was a clean sheet if I’m not mistaken, that had to happen. Obviously we need three points at some point. But to keep a clean sheet is something this team hasn’t done so that’s a small positive. I think the fact that it was Pittsburgh Harrisburg and a Derby contributing to why it wasn’t the prettiest.
On earning the squad’s first clean sheet…
I’m really happy. The whole team did a great job on defense, in terms of keeping the ball far away from the goal. I’m really happy.
On first time competing in the Keystone Derby…
In the beginning, I knew this was an important game for the fans. I think part of our good game was their support.
On gaining confidence from tonight’s performance…
We are getting there, we played a good game but it wasn’t enough. We need to keep pushing and force more goals. All I can say is that we need to keep working hard and doing what coach wants to do.
[The defense] was like a wall. There were a few times I was expecting a shot and they came out of nowhere and protected me. In general, we all did great work.
On not capitalizing on chances…
Yeah, we needed three points in that game to start July off right. It’s just frustrating, but the positive thing is that was our first clean sheet. Now we just need to put our chances to work and get three points.
We had some good chances in the first half that were saved by the keeper, I guess it was just one of those nights. I think there’s only been two games we haven’t scored so you’re going to have those nights where it’s just not going in and unfortunately that was tonight. Defensively we did well to keep the clean sheet.
On finding space in close after Harrisburg lost a man…
It’s difficult, they were putting 8 or 9 people in the box and it’s hard for us to get good quality chances. I mean, we had our opportunities in the first half. We just have to learn from this and have the positive part of having a clean sheet.
On facing the City Islanders again in less than two weeks…
Harrisburg is a good team; you saw it tonight. They kept us shutout. We just need to focus on keeping the ball in the mid field and try to avoid turnovers. If we could just clean up the game a little bit and take more chances that would be good.