Led by Seku Conneh’s strong offensive performance, Bethlehem Steel FC picked up its first victory of the 2017 United Soccer League season, defeating FC Cincinnati, 2-0, at Goodman Stadium on the campus of Lehigh University.
Conneh’s two-goal performance was historic in that the Liberian national team forward becomes the first player in the club’s history to have a multi-goal match. Conneh’s brace against Cincinnati marked the first time in Conneh’s career that he had scored two goals as well. Not to be outdone, Steel FC goalkeeper Jake McGuire had a strong showing in his professional debut. The 22-year-old keeper registered his first shutout while making five saves to help the club defeat FC Cincinnati for the first time in team history.
“I think we have to be happy with the win, we probably could have tacked on a third or a fourth goal at the end but it’s a great start,” Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said. “We talked about fighting our way out of a little hole at the beginning of the game and I think we demonstrated that in the first half and earned being up a man at half. We took full advantage of that in the second half and Seku (Conneh) made them pay.”
In a match the featured four bookings, the largest came in the 22nd minute against the visitors. After Cory Burke forced a turnover outside the Cincinnati penalty area, the Jamaican international was fouled inside the box by Paul Nicholson, who was immediately shown the red card. Conneh’s strong performance nearly included a third goal but FC Cincinnati goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt came up with a diving save that kept the match scoreless at halftime.
The second half saw Steel FC take advantage of the extra man, finding the back of the net twice in a 13-minute span. After Jack Elliott served in a long ball from midfield, Conneh timed his run on the wing to beat the defense. After a couple dribbles inside, Conneh curled in a shot at the top of the 18-yard box that found the back of the net for the opening goal.
In the 60th minute, Steel FC doubled its lead as Conneh found his final goal of the evening. A quick build up once more, Santi Moar found space and dribbled into the penalty area. With Cincinnati’s keeper closing in, the Spaniard laid it off to Conneh, who scored on the near post.
The match concluded Bethlehem Steel FC ‘s first home stand of the season, with the club heading on the road next weekend. Steel FC will travel to in-state rival Harrisburg City Islanders for their Saturday, April 15 matchup. Kickoff from FNB Field is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Bethlehem Steel FC 2, FC Cincinnati 0
Shots: 20-7 (Bethlehem)
Shots On Goal: 6-5 (Bethlehem)
Corners: 4-3 (Cincinnati)
Saves: 5-4 (Bethlehem)
BST – 47’ Seku Conneh (Jack Elliott)
BST – 60’ Seku Conneh (Santi Moar)
CIN – 22’ – Paul Nicholson (Red Card)
BST – 30’ – Cory Burke (Yellow Card)
BST – 34’ – Mark McKenzie (Yellow Card)
BST – 45’ – Aaron Jones (Yellow Card)
BETHLEHEM STEEL FC STARTING XI
Jake McGuire; Giliano Wijnaldum (Charlie Reymann 85’), Auston Trusty, Mark McKenzie, Aaron Jones; Jack Elliott (Hugh Roberts76’), Adam Najem, Cory Burke; Santi Moar (Issa Rayyan 81’), Marcus Epps, Seku Conneh.
Substitutes not used: Matt Freese, Matt Mahoney, Josh Heard, Chris Nanco.
FC CINCINNATI STARTING XI
Mitch Hildebrandt; Matt Bohner, Paul Nicholson, Harrison Delbridge, Justin Hoyte (Tyler Polak 14’); Aodhan Quinn, Kenney Walker; Andrew Weideman (Mele Temguia 27’), Kadeem Docrei (Omar Cummings 73’), Jimmy McLoughlin, Djiby.
Substitutes not used: Dallas Joye, Corben Bone, Victor Mansaray, Andy Craven,
Jorge Gonzalez, Daniel Richman (Assistant), Kevin Lock (Assistant), Lorant Varga (Fourth Official)