After facing an early deficit in the club’s first road match of the season, Bethlehem Steel FC showed its mental toughness to rally back before falling late to Harrisburg City Islanders ,3-2, at FNB Field.
Saddled with a 2-0 deficit after the opening 21 minutes, Steel FC fought back with a pair of first career goals from 2017 MLS SuperDraft pick forwards Santi Moar and Chris Nancy. Moar swung momentum in the club’s favor with a goal late in the first half while Nanco needed only five minutes into his professional debut to find a way on the scoresheet.
Harrisburg jumped out to an early advantage, scoring on a drawn up corner kick play in the ninth minute. After a high service into the 18-yard box, Lee Nishanian headed the ball to the far side of the goal, where Aaron Wheeler slotted home the finish. The early deficit doubled against Steel FC in the 21st minute, as James Thomas dribbled near up the goal line before finding a trailing Paul Wilson. Wilson collected the pace with his speed and fired it past Jake McGuire for the second goal.
Despite the early hole, Bethlehem Steel FC bounced back with a goal just before the halftime whistle. After Seku Conneh drew a foul outside the Harrisburg City Islanders 18-yard box, Steel FC capitalized on the opportunity. Aaron Jones decided to have a go on net which was saved by Brandon Miller, but the keeper mishandled the save. Santi Moar calmly collected the mistake to score the first professional goal of his career.
The momentum carried into the second half for Steel FC, with Chris Nanco impacting the match as a substitute. Coming on in place of Adam Najem in the 59th minute, Nanco made an immediate impact but saw his shot saved by Miller. Nanco shook off the save and buried his next opportunity in the 64th minute. Playing from the back, McGuire delivered a long ball to Seku Conneh. The captain flicked it over the Harrisburg back line where Nanco utilized his speed to chance down the ball and slot home the tying goal on the far post.
With a draw looming, Harrisburg delivered the final goal in the waning minutes of the match. Collecting a ball from Paul Ribeiro, substitute forward Cardel Benbow dribbled through and found space to give the hosts all three points in the home opener in the 90th minute.
Bethlehem Steel FC looks to bounce back from the short road trip when the club returns home to Goodman Stadium for a pair of home matches. The short home stand kicks off against Orlando City B on Sunday, April 23. Kick off from the campus of Lehigh University is set for 4 p.m.
Bethlehem Steel FC 2, Harrisburg City Islanders 3
Shots: 20-12 (Harrisburg)
Shots On Goal: 7-4 (Harrisburg)
Corners: 10-3 (Harrisburg)
Saves: 4-2 (Bethlehem)
BST – 64’ Chris Nanco (
BST – 38’ Santi Moar
HAR – 21’ Paul Wilson (James Thomas)
HAR – 9’ Aaron Wheeler (Lee Nishanian)Seku Conneh)
HAR – 90’ Cardel Benbow (Pedro Ribeiro)
BST – 61’ Giliano Wijnaldum (Yellow Card)
HAR – 72’ Jamie Thomas (Yellow Card)
BETHLEHEM STEEL FC STARTING XI
Jake McGuire; Giliano Wijnaldum, Auston Trusty, Mark McKenzie, Aaron Jones; Hugh Roberts, Derrick Jones, Adam Najem (Chris Nanco 59’); Santi Moar (Josh Heard 71’), Marcus Epps (Justin McMaster 89’), Seku Conneh
Substitutes not used: Matt Freese, Charlie Reymann, Chris Wingate, Issa Rayyan
HARRISBURG CITY ISLANDERS STARTING XI
Brandon Miller; Abass Mohammed (Shawn McLaws 90’), Lee Nishanian, Travis Brent (Tiago Calvano 45’), James Thomas; Rasheed Olabiyi, John Grosh, Paul Wilson (Pedro Ribeiro 68’); Manolo Sanchez (Cardel Benbow 84’), Aaron Wheeler, Jonny Mendoza
Substitutes not used: Nick Noble, Mike Olla, Ropapa Mensah
Brandon Smith, Jaroslaw Werel (Assistant), Melvin Holmes (Assistant), Terrance Mull (Fourth)