Richmond Kickers edge Wilmington 1-0

BigE

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

WILMINGTON, NC -- The Richmond Kickers claimed sole possession of first place in the USL-2 standings with a 1-0 road win over the Wilmington Hammerheads Saturday. Kickers midfielder Joey Worthen connected on a Sascha Görres cross to top their former co-leaders.

Goalkeeper Ronnie Pascale posted two saves to record his eighth shutout of the season and third consecutive 1-0 win. The Kickers host Wilmington next Saturday, August 15th in the regular season finale. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. at UR Stadium.

The Kickers defense stifled the Hammerheads attack, preventing any chances from materializing in the first half. Early offensive pressure gave Wilmington goalkeeper Chris McClellan a workout, blocking two consecutive Kickers shots to open the match.
First, in the 28th minute, Görres won a one-on-one ball on the left side. Carrying it to the touchline, he delivered a cross back to the top of the box, finding a wide-open Kenny Cutler. The former Real Salt Lake midfielder took one touch but McClellan was on his line and made the save.

Eight minutes later, Kickers defender Evan Harding lined up a free kick on the right side. Opting for a short free kick, he played the ball to Luke Vercollone, who crossed it to the far post. Defender Yomby William won the battle in the air but his header fell straight to McClellan to keep the Kickers attack at bay.

Ten minutes after the second half restart, the Kickers broke the ice. Harding switched a long ball from the right side to the left. Görres composed the ball and bent a cross to Worthen, whose flying header sailed past the diving keeper to the near post.

The Hammerheads had their first dangerous chance of the night in the 73rd minute when forward Phil Hufstader collected a ball that was deflected to him 20 yards out but he unleashed a determined shot directly to Pascale.

A flurry of activity occurred in the final minute of regulation, starting with a dangerous scoring opportunity for Wilmington in the 89th minute. Midfielder Kenny Bundy fought for the ball in the box and attempted a bicycle kick from 10 yards out, but he miscalculated and missed the ball.

Then, a skirmish on the left flank resulted in an ejection to Hammerheads defender Colin Falvey and a split shinguard for Kickers midfielder Ben Hunter. As the two battled for a loose ball on the wing, Hunter reached the ball first while Falvey went in with a studs-up tackle, only to be awarded with a straight red card.

The Kickers nearly doubled their lead in stoppage time, capitalizing on an opportunity when Wilmington pushed everyone forward. Hunter intercepted the ball and played it back to David Bulow, who ran the length of the field alone. Challenging the goalkeeper one on one, Hammerheads defender Ryan Solle caught him 15 yards out, just before he could unleash a shot.

Tonight’s win puts the Kickers in sole possession of first place in the USL-2 standings and in good position to claim the regular season title. With one game in hand, the Hammerheads take on the Real Maryland Monarchs on Wednesday, August 12th before traveling to Richmond for the regular season finale on August 15th.

The Kickers are guaranteed a bye to the USL-2 Semifinals and will host the match on Saturday, August 22nd against an opponent that is to be determined.
 
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