Down a man, trailing by a goal and over 22,000 fans celebrating at Nippert Stadium, Bethlehem Steel FC rallied to claim an important point on the road against Eastern Conference leaders, FC Cincinnati, 2-2.
Fabian Herbers leveled the affair that had the crowd stunned moments in the 69th minute, as the Philadelphia Union midfielder beat the keeper inside the far post to make it 2-2. The goal capped off a hectic three-goal sequence that saw Cincinnati equalize in the 66th minute and go-ahead two minutes later. Collecting a pass from 18-year-old rookie Michee Ngalina, Herbers beat his defender into the box and fired a left-footed shot that ended the game’s scoreline.
While Steel FC was forced to play the final 38 minutes down a man after Olivier Mbaizo was sent off, the young squad left it all on the pitch to push the club’s unbeaten run to three-consecutive matches including a pair of draws against the top two clubs in the USL’s Eastern Conference. Union veteran goalkeeper John McCarthy came up big between the sticks, making eight saves as Cincinnati fired 27 shot overall.
Steel FC came out eager against the future-MLS side, pinning their hosts on defense for the opening 10 minutes of the match. After a diving save from McCarthy in the 25th minute, Steel FC claimed the lead on Derrick Jones’ team-leading third goal. After having his initial shot blocked at the edge of the box, the Union midfielder collected the ball beat two defenders before slotting a right-footed shot inside the post.
Cincinnati battled back but was stifled by McCarthy and the Steel FC defense to get into the dressing rooms down 1-0. Momentum swung into the host's favor with the man-advantage but the Steel FC held on for 14 minutes. Cincinnati broke through in the 66th minute after Matt Real made a goal-line clearance but Nazmi Albadawi collected the clearance and scored. Two minutes later, Cincinnati took the lead on a header from Russell Cicerone but the lead lasted only a minute thanks to Herbers’ follow up goal.
After a busy slate of two matches in five days, Steel FC returns home with time to recover before returning to league action against rival New York Red Bulls II on Wednesday, June 20. The midweek tilt at Goodman Stadium on the campus of Lehigh University is scheduled to kick off at 5 p.m.
Bethlehem Steel FC 2, FC Cincinnati 2
Shots: 26-10 (Cincinnati)
Shots On Goal: 10-3 (Cincinnati)
Corners: 12-1 (Cincinnati)
Saves: 8-1 (Bethlehem)
BST – 29’ Derrick Jones
CIN – 66’ Nazmi Albadawi
CIN – 68’ Russell Cicerone (Blake Smith)
BST – 69’ Fabian Herbers (Michee Ngalina)
BST – 51’ Olivier Mbaizo (Yellow Card)
BST – 52’ Olivier Mbaizo (Red Card)
BST – 86’ Fabian Herbers (Yellow Card)
CIN – 87’ Danni Konig (Yellow Card)
BETHLEHEM STEEL FC STARTING XI
John McCarthy; Matt Real, Brandon Aubrey, Matt Mahoney, Olivier Mbaizo; James Chambers, Derrick Jones; Santi Moar, Anthony Fontana (Drew Skundrich 61’), Michee Ngalina (Chris Nanco 80’); Fabian Herbers (Ben Ofeimu 90’).
Substitutes not used: Kris Shakes, Prosper Chiluya, Mike Catalano, Jeremy Rafanello.
FC CINCINNATI STARTING XI
Evan Newton; Matt Bahner, Sem de Wit, Dekel Keinan (Forrest Lasso 36’), Blake Smith; Kenney Walker, Russell Cicerone, Corben Bone, Nazmi Albadawi; Jimmy McLaughlin, Emery Welshman (Danni Konig 64’).
Substitutes not used: Mark Village, Daniel Harber, Michael Lahoud, Will Seymore, Justin Hoyte.
Officials: Marcos de Oliveira, Cory Richardson (Assistant), Benjamin Hall-Volpenhein (Assistant), Jason Ulrich (Fourth Official).
LVHN TEAM NOTES