An early penalty kick in the visitor’s favors proved the difference as Bethlehem Steel FC came up short against Nashville SC, 1-0.
Nashville SC forward Michael Cox converted on the fifth-minute penalty that saw Bethlehem Steel FC defender Brandon Aubrey was sent off for the foul. Despite being a man down, Steel FC outshot the USL-newcomers and had more possession but unable to find the equalizer.
“I’m really proud of the way my guys responded,” Bethlehem Steel FC head coach Brendan Burke said following the match. “There wasn’t much to be done after those decisions were made along with decisions that impacted that game in the second half so all I can be is proud of my players for responding the way they did and they really dictated large spells of that game. We walk away happy with our guys but extraordinarily frustrated with the performance in the middle.”
Down a man and a goal with 84 minutes remaining, Steel FC stuck to its game plan to outshoot Nashville 8-4 in the first half while notching 54 percent of the possession. Moments after the goal, Steel FC midfielders James Chambers and Santi Moar linked up for a combination that led to a shot by forward Brandon Allen that was off the mark. Midway through the opening half, Philadelphia Union midfielder Marcus Epps dribbled through Nashville and laid a pass off to Moar but the curler missed the far post.
The second half saw both squads pushing for the next goal. Union goalkeeper Jake McGuire was tested early in the half, stopping a breakaway inside the box in the 46th minute. One of Steel FC’s best scoring chances came in the 55th minute off a set piece opportunity. Chambers fired a low shot around the Nashville wall that forced a diving block by Matt Pickens. Adam Najem raced for the rebounded tap-in opportunity but was denied by the keeper at the line as well.
In the waning moments of the match, another free kick presented a chance to equalize. Moar tried from distance in the 80th minute but the 23-year-old’s shot was parried away the Pickens to seal Nashville’s first victory in club history.
Steel FC continues its three-game home stand next weekend with match up against Charleston Battery on Sunday, April 8. Kick off from Goodman Stadium is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Bethlehem Steel FC 0, Nashville SC 1
Shots: 13-12 (Bethlehem)
Shots On Goal: 7-4 (Nashville)
Saves: 6-4 (Bethlehem)
NSH – 6’ Michael Cox (PK)
BST – 5’ Brandon Aubrey (Red Card)
BST – 59’ James Chambers (Yellow Card)
BST – 78’ Adam Najem (Yellow Card)
NSH – 79’ Justin Davis (Yellow Card)
NSH – 90’ Matt LaGrassa (Yellow Card)
BETHLEHEM STEEL FC STARTING XI
Jake McGuire; Prosper Chiluya, Brandon Aubrey, Matthew Mahoney, Eric Ayuk; James Chambers (Aidan Apodaca 69’), Mike Catalano (Brenden Aaronson 63’); Santi Moar, Adam Najem, Marcus Epps (Chris Nanco 78’); Brandon Allen.
Substitutes not used: Tomas Romero, Drew Skundrich, AJ Paterson, Tonny Temple.
NASHVILLE SC STARTING XI
Matt Pickens; Bradley Bourgeois, Liam Doyle, Justin Davis; Ryan James (Kosuke Kimura 72’), Bolu Akinyode, Michael Reed, Lebo Moloto (Matt LaGrassa 63’), Taylor Washington; Alan Winn, Michael Cox (Ropapa Mensah 71’).
Substitutes not used: CJ Cochran, Tucker Hume, Robin Shroot, Josh Hughes.
Officials: Brandon Smith, Zeno Cho (Assistant), Terrence Mull (Assistant), Bobby Cordrey (Fourth Official).
LVHN TEAM NOTES