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Pittsburgh Riverhounds

After wild finish, Hounds hold off Indy, 3-2

After wild finish, Hounds hold off Indy, 3-2

FINAL – Pittsburgh 3, Indy Eleven 2

 USL Match Center    Box Score 

To say it was a wild final five minutes at Highmark Stadium on Saturday night would be an understatement.

The Riverhounds SC held off a furious Indy Eleven comeback effort, holding on for a 3-2 win that featured all goals scored in the second half.

As the game entered stoppage time, the Hounds seemingly put the game away, pulling ahead to a 3-1 lead on a Kenardo Forbes penalty kick after teammate Neco Brett was fouled in the box on a counter.

Once again, a late game lead wouldn’t be safe for Pittsburgh.

Less than a minute Forbes’ penalty kick finish, Indy cut the lead to 3-2 — on an own goal that would be credited to Hounds defender Joe Greenspan.

“You have to give them credit,” Ben Zemanski, Hounds midfielder, said. “They’re a good team, but we were a little bit complacent. We switched off just for a second, and against good teams. Against playoff teams, you can’t switch off. It’s better to learn these lessons when winning. But late in the season, we’ve got to start taking something from these lessons. We can’t give away these opportunities late in the game, especially when we’re leading.”

After a few free kicks and a corner kick coming in additional stoppage time moments, the Hounds would ultimately hold on for the victory, improving its record to 14-4-11, good for 53 points and currently holding in third place in the USL’s Eastern Conference standings, one point behind Louisville City FC. The Hounds (29 games) have a game at hand on Louisville City.

There were way too many loose ends for Hounds head coach Bob Lilley, who’s suddenly coping with an team that tends to make things interesting late in games.

“It was a good result, but not a great game,” Lilley remarked.

Lilley pointed to his team’s inability to put the clamps down on an opponent while holding a lead.

“At 2-0, that game should be safe and tucked away,” Lilley explained. “We shouldn’t have had to score a third goal to secure this win. Stuff like this will happen in the playoffs, we just don’t want it to happen to us. I don’t like it happened to us, not only once, but twice. That’s disappointing. But we got three points and that matters but we have work to do.”

After a scoreless first forty five minutes, the Hounds started off the second half with a bang, scoring only seconds apart.

It was Ben Zemanski who capitalized on a loose ball, sending a shot into the back of the net after Christiano Francois kept a ball alive and sent a short cross into a crowded box in the 49th minute.

Only a minute later, as smoke from the Steel Army goal celebration was still emanating from the East End of the field, the Hounds moved quickly into the box, a ball in from Francois found Zemanski open again — only to have the former Portland Timbers midfielder’s shot on frame saved by a diving Owain Fon Williams.

Neco Brett kept the ball alive though, taking a touch in the air, bringing it down, then turning around quickly to deliver a shot that gave Pittsburgh a two-goal lead.

It would be Brett’s team leading 15th goal of the season.

“I thought we played a bit too direct in the first half,” Zemanski said. “I feel like the ball was always bouncing out and we weren’t able to get in any kind of rhythm. But in the second half, we were able to make runs forward and finished off some chances.

 

“They have good, experienced defenders, so to break them down and score the two goals and create some other good opportunities, especially in the second half, I think that’s a good sign for us,” Lilley said.

Holding a 2-0 lead, the Hounds escaped a dangerous moment in the 62nd minute when goalkeeper Dan Lynd made a decision to go past the 18 to play the ball under pressure.

Even with pair of Hounds defenders near ball and Indy forward Soony Saad closing in, Lynd attempted to clear the ball away.

Saad blocked the clearance effort with his face, took a few touches toward the open goal, but Lynd made a valiant effort to get back to deny a shot attempt.

Former LA Galaxy forward, Jack McInerney would cut the Hounds lead in half in the 81st minute, slicing through the Hounds back line for a highlight reel finish.

In the first half, Francois got involved in a consecutive build-up play sequences creating a dangerous ball into the center of the box for Brett in the 18th minute that was cleared, the moments later struck a dangerous free kick

Indy had the game’s first real decent chance in the fifth minute when as Dylan Mares was fed a nice pass inside 18 — but a weak one-time attempt trickled wide right of goal.

The teams exchanged five first half shots apiece, but the lone shot on target came in the dying seconds of the first 45 minutes when Forbes received a pass from Francois on right side of box.

Forbes sent a bending shot toward the left side of the goal, but nice diving save by Williams to kept the match scoreless.

The Hounds came out with a familiar three center back setup, with Joe Greenspan, Hugh Roberts and Tobi Adewole, along with Jordan Dover and Thomas Vancaeyezeele roaming the flanks.  Mouhamed Dabo anchored in as the lone holding midfielder.

Despite being penciled into Lilley’s line-up card as a forward, Francois played in a wide right attacking midfield spot, with Zemanski in the middle and Forbes, the Hounds leading play maker, who now has four goals and eight assists, on the left side.

Brett stayed highest as Pittsburgh’s lone top man, as the Hounds changed things up a bit, opting for what looked like a unique 3-3-3-1 (or a 5-1-3-1 depending where the outside/wingers Dover/Vancaeyezeele) formation on Saturday, after lining up in 3-1-4-2 the previous two matches.

Zemanski, who’s been featured in more attacking role in the past three home games which the Hounds came away two wins and a comeback draw, was rewarded with his first goal of the season.

“We’re always looking for Kenny as we want him on the ball as much as possible,” Zemanski said. ” I try to keep it simple in there, try to make runs, open it up for Kenny and Neco, and obviously defensively try to organize and win balls. Goals don’t come too often for me, so it was nice to get one.”

Dover would be replaced late in the game by Andy Lubahn, while Francois was subbed out for Ray Lee later in the match too. Romeo Parkes also made an appearance, coming in for Forbes after the penalty kick goal.

It was the defensive lapses that really had Lilley picking things apart after the game.

“They (Indy) were always one goal away,” Lilley said. “It’s something I’ve maintained all year. We’ve got to get better in all facets. We’re not defending well as a team, period. It takes a whole team to defend well. We’ve got some big guys back there, but we’re getting beat on individual challenges. Late in games we’re not dealing with it. We have the numbers, but we didn’t play great today.”

“We’ll have to clean things up, and get ready for Wednesday.”

Beyond the Box Score

  • Midfielder Ben Zemanski’s goal marked his first-ever in a Hounds uniform.
  • Playing 77 minutes, attacking midfielder Christiano François led the squad with five key passes.
  • With Kenardo Forbes’ penalty kick goal, this is the sixth straight season a Hound has collected two penalty kick goals.
  • Defender Hugh Roberts led the Hounds with eight clearances.

What’s Next
Riverhounds SC will hit the road for the rivalry series-deciding match against Penn FC (9-13-8) at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday at FNB Field. The sides tied both of their previous matches this season by a score of 0-0.

Lineups:

Riverhounds SC – Dan Lynd – Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Tobi Adewole, Joe Greenspan, Hugh Roberts, Jordan Dover (Andrew Lubahn 86’) – Ben Zemanski, Mouhamed Dabo – Kenardo Forbes (Romeo Parkes 90+1’), Christiano François (Ray Lee 77’) – Neco Brett

Subs not used: Mike Kirk, Ben Fitzpatrick, Joe Holland, Andrew Lubahn

Indy Eleven – Owain Fon Williams – Karl Ouimette, Carlyle Mitchell, Reiner Ferreira, Ayoze – Matthew Watson (Elliot Collier 65’), Brad Ring (Kevin Venegas 81’), Dylan Mares – Jack McInerney, Juan Guerra – Eugene Starikov (Soony Saad 45’)

Subs not used: Ben Lundgaard, Nico Matem, Brad Rusin, Benjamin Speas

Scoring Summary:
PGH – Ben Zemanski 49’
PGH – Neco Brett 51’
IND – Jack McInerney 81’ (Juan Guerra)
PGH – Kenardo Forbes 90’ (penalty)
IND – Joe Greenspan 90+2’ (own goal)

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets including Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, and more. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

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