Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Harrisburg City Islanders battled to a hard-fought 0-0 draw at Skyline Sports Complex on Saturday night.
In the third leg of the Keystone Derby, a three-match series between in-state USL PRO League rivals, it was a physical match that included 29 fouls and five cautions issued.
Both teams also had their share of chances.
In the final minutes, the Riverhounds almost tasted victory, as Mike Green controlled a ball played into the right side of the box, then sent it toward the goal to a streaking Jose Angulo who easily flicked it into the net past Harrisburg goalkeeper Nicholas Noble.
But the flag was up, Angulo was offside.
Riverhounds goalkeeper Hunter Gilstrap came up with six saves throughout the match. Including one from a blast in the 81st minute from Jimmy McLaughlin from just inside the right side of the penalty area.
“Hunter made some beautiful saves, Noble made some too. It was a beautiful game to watch, lots of play on both ends,” said Niko Katic.
“I’m very proud of the boys. It was a solid effort tonight. Getting a point on the road and we played better then Harrisburg for most of the match.”
It was Angulo, the reigning USL PRO MVP, playing on the left outside midfield for most of the match, who Katic praised after the match
“Jose was outstanding today. You can’t play soccer without defending. He really helped our overall effort by playing in that role. We were a more disciplined side tonight, and he really helped with making a difference.”
Angulo was able to move forward into the second half, creating numerous scoring chances and getting three shots at Noble that were turned away.
The first half began with the City Islanders putting heavy pressure on Riverhounds back line and goalkeeper Hunter Gilstrap, setting up numerous corner kicks.
In the 11th minute, on a ball played toward the left edge of the penalty area, Clesio Bauque beat Gilstrap, who came way out to make a play on the ball. When Clesio tried to send a ball through toward the open goal, Riverhounds defender Andrew Marshall came through to ward off danger.
“That was a ball I probably should have let go for a corner, but fortunately Andrew made a nice play,” said Gilstrap.
“The guys in front of me were outstanding tonight. Most of the shots were right at me. It was a good team effort out there.”
The Riverhounds settled in as the first half wore on, and began to create some opportunities of their own.
In the 22nd minute, Collins John received a nice pass from Matt Dallman, turned and rocketed a left footed blast that hit the upper right corner of the goal, and ricocheted back into play.
Angulo came back a minute later, from the top of the penalty area to send a nifty, in-swinging ball heading into the upper left corner, that was punched away by City Islanders goalkeeper Nicholas Noble.
Dallman was knocked down a few times in the early part of the match, but was able to shake off what appeared to be a sore foot, to stay in the match. He would later give way, in the 52nd minute, in favor of Mike Green.
Riverhounds starting eleven included: Gilstrap (GK), Rob Vincent, Andrew Marshall, Sterling Flunder, Brian Fekete, Alfonso Motagalvan, Kevin Kerr, Angulo and John. Joseph Ngwenya came in for Collins John in the 72nd minute, and Green entered, as previously mentioned, for Dallman.
A loud contingent of Riverhounds’ supporters, The Steel Army, made the trip to Harrisburg, and after the match, the players made sure they came over to thank their loyal fans.
“They’re an absolutely incredible group of supporters. After our start this season, we really should deserved to have that kind of support,” said Gilstrap.
“They’ve been there for every home game, and tonight, they made us feel like we were at home.”
Harrisburg had the edge in shots (8-7) and corners (7-5). In a game with a lot of tackles, the Riverhounds were called for 19 fouls.
Tonight’s match marked Pittsburgh’s only trip to Harrisburg this season, the three match series ended with the edge to the City Islanders, who netted the lone win, 3-1 on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh, and two draws.
Katic walked off the field tonight, fairly optimistic about his team’s form in recent weeks.
“In our last five games (in USL PRO and US Open Cup) we are 2-2-1. Hey, that’s not bad. We have to keep improving and building on this.”
The Riverhounds (1-7-5) will now be heading to the Windy City to take on the Chicago Fire of MLS Wednesday, June 18 at 7:30PM CT at Toyota Park for a fourth round matchup in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Tournament.
“We are very excited about that opportunity,” said Katic, who played in Chicago in College, and in the Professional Development League (PDL).
“There’s nothing to lose, we’re going to go there and give it our best shot. It should be fun! Can’t wait.”
The Riverhounds return home on Sunday, June 22nd for a 3:00PM match against the Richmond Kickers.
This game report is courtesy of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds