For the second time this season, conceding a first half goal proved costly against the USL Eastern Conference-leading Charleston Battery, as Bethlehem Steel FC came out on the short end of a 1-0 decision on Thursday afternoon.
"Disappointed with the result, and I thought we lacked discipline defensively in the second half in terms of our overall shape," Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said. "We left a lot of space in midfield and we were exposed for it quite a bit. I thought Jake [McGuire] did a great job keeping us in the game. On the flip side of it, we created a lot of opportunities to serve the ball in the box and the service just wasn’t close to good enough. Two major areas to improve on. If you connect 528 passes in a game, you have to create more meaningful goal-scoring opportunities."
Despite a furious second-half attempt, the winning goal came off the foot of Atlanta United forward Romario Williams, who notched his league-leading eighth goal of the season in USL competition. After missing the club’s first matchup in Charleston three weeks ago due to illness, the Jamaican forward showcased his scoring abilities with a 32nd-minute goal.
Steel FC dominated possession in the opening half against Charleston, as the squad looked to break down the conference leaders. Despite the vast amount of time on the ball, the Battery got the lone goal from Williams. After an O’Brian Woodbine interception, the midfield threaded a pass toward Williams. With defender Aaron Jones tightly defending, the 22-year-old Jamaican forward found a shred of light and fired toward the Steel FC net that bounced off the goalpost and in.
Steel FC showed no loss of pace after the Williams’ goal, continuing to press and pin the Battery on their side of the field. The result led to a season-high 528 passes and a strong 81 percent passing accuracy despite constant rain during the early 11 a.m. start time.
Team captain James Chambers, who tied the club’s record for most starts with 29, nearly lifted the squad to a 1-1 draw in the waning moments of the match. With the club searching for an equalizer, the Irish midfielder fired a shot from 20 yards away that was denied by the crossbar.
Bethlehem Steel FC will have little time to recover, as the club hosts in-state rival Harrisburg City Islanders on Sunday, May 28. Kickoff at Goodman Stadium on the campus of Lehigh University is set for 5 p.m. Tickets for the match can be purchased online here, or by calling the Bethlehem Steel FC ticket office at 844-STEELFC.
Bethlehem Steel FC 0, Charleston Battery 1
Shots: 20-10 (Charleston)
Shots On Goal: 7-1 (Charleston)
Corners: 7-4 (Charleston)
CHS – 32’ Romario Williams
BST – 76’ Josue Monge (Yellow Card)
BST – 88’ Cory Burke (Yellow Card)
BETHLEHEM STEEL FC STARTING XI
Jake McGuire; Matt Real, Hugh Roberts, Ken Tribbett, Aaron Jones; James Chambers, Dawson McCartney (Josue Monge 73’), Cory Burke; Chris Nanco (Santi Moar 84’), Yosef Samuel (Amoy Brown 62’),Seku Conneh
Substitutes not used: Tomas Romero, Mark McKenzie, Charlie Reymann, Matt Mahoney
CHARLESTON BATTERY STARTING XIAlex Tambakis; Skyler Thomas, Taylor Mueller, Miles Robinson, O’Brian Woodbine; Justin Portillo, Neviel Hackshaw, Mikel Chang (Jeffrey Otoo 90’), Kotaro Higashi (Dante Marini 72’); Ataulla Guerra, Romario Williams (Heviel Cordoves 77’)
Substitutes not used: Odisnel Cooper, Quentin Griffith, Chris Goslin, Ricky Garbanzo
Jonathan Weiner, Jaroslaw Werel (Assistant), Kevin Lock (Assistant), Joshua Encarnacion (Fourth Official), Henrik Karlsson (Video Assistant Referee)
LVHN TEAM NOTES