Riverhounds 0, Penn FC 0
The Riverhounds battled to a second consecutive scoreless draw to start the season — this time in the home opener against Keystone Derby rivals Penn FC on Saturday night at Highmark Stadium.
The Hounds may have a had a few missed chances, and played solid defensively, but it was a performance that left a lot to be desired in the eyes of the team’s veteran head coach.
It was one of those draws that felt like a loss.
“We could win a game like that, but we didn’t deserve to win tonight,” Bob Lilley, Hounds head coach said.
Dan Lynd earned his second clean sheet in goal, while the Hounds dominated possession (59%) and ended up with 12-8 shots advantage (4-1 with shots on target), they couldn’t create enough quality chances in the final third to produce their first goal, and first win of the season.
“There’s no doubt, we’re disappointed,” Joe Greenspan, Hounds defender said after the match. “It was the home opener, and we’re always looking to take three points, but we had chances to finish here or there and couldn’t do it.”
The Hounds were not content to sit back early in the match, and they certainly came out on the attack, creating numerous chances, but failing convert each time.
Romeo Parkes was on the receiving end of a few golden opportunities.
In the 20th minute, after Kenardo Forbes was able to get a quick restart — then he lofted a perfectly placed ball over to Parkes who broke into the box with only the goalkeeper Roumauld Peiser to beat, but missed his shot left of the post.
Four minutes later, Jordan Dover played a nice ball into the far right side to Christiano François as the Hounds were pushing forward. François’ delivered a perfectly placed cross into the far post area, but again Parkes mis-connected – sending a one-timer way over the bar and over the Steel Army in the Paul Child Stand.
Dover and François were busy on the right side, also connecting in the 15th minute on an inside-out passing combination that left Dover with lots of room to shoot from the right corner of the box. This time, Peiser was forced to extend his body to make a highlight reel save to deny the Hounds first goal of the season.
More chances would come.
Parkes was knocked down by Ken Tribbett in the box in the 30th minute — and referee Charles Murphy took some heat from the crowd for letting the play go. Joe Holland would also put a quality shot to the inside of the left post that forced Peiser to make his second save of the night.
In all, the Hounds outshot Penn FC 8-5, getting the only two shots on target in the first half.
“It’s always tough,” Greenspan added. “You get chances, you get opportunities, and it’s a bit deflating. That the mental part of the game that we have to overcome, and keep pushing forward to get that goal.”
The second half provided a few more chances, with Peiser making a couple more saves, stopping both François and second-half sub Ben Zemanski, in his Hounds debut.
François’ chance came in the 66th minute after Kevin Kerr flicked a gorgeous ball over the top of the defense to spring the Haitian loose. Playing the ball off the bounce, François put a hard take on frame that found Peiser in position to handle.
Zemanski’s leaning volley attempt came out of a ruckus in the box in the 84th minute. Seeing the ball squeak out to him at the top of the box, Zemanski fired a shot immediately on goal forcing Peiser once again to react quickly with a dive for his fourth and final save of the night.
As the Hounds came out in a 4-3-3, none of the top six attackers in the starting line-up put together a convincing enough performance to satisfy their head coach.
That included Kerr, who was subbed out in the 79th minute for Neco Brett
“I don’t think we played with enough conviction. We were better in (last week’s draw) Nashville, and tonight, we looked like after we had some chances early on, that they would continue to come,” Lilley said. “They slowed us down. They were happy to play for a draw. Our movement up front was poor tonight. Christiano (Francois), Romeo (Parkes) and (Kevin) Kerr were all standing with defenders. The only runs they were making were straight runs. There’s no imagination in their movement. The midfielders were poor in terms of their passing.”
Defensively, the Hounds were facing a dangerous pair from Penn FC in Lucky Mkosano and Tommy Heinemann who were among the top scoring threats in NASL a year ago.
“I thought we handled them pretty well. We didn’t give up too much – similar to last week at Nashville. We’re always pleased coming away with the clean sheet, but again the goal is to get three points here, especially at home,” Greenspan said. “Overall, we’re disappointed and we’re going to get back to the drawing board for next weekend.”
Lynd’s only save was from a weak shot from Heinemann in the latter stages of the second half.
“I thought our back were good — I was happy with the most part with what we did in the back,” Lilley added. “To be zero-zero at the half, and to play a less than stellar second half, was disappointing. We’ll have to look as coaches where we can be better. Obviously we’re not where we want to be.”
The Hounds have never before shut out its first two opponents to open the season in the current era of the USL (since 2011) and the clean sheet effort also marked the fourth straight match the Hounds have blanked Penn FC dating back to April 29, 2017, as the Hounds blanked the then Harrisburg City Islanders three times to capture the Keystone Derby Cup in 2017.
The result wasn’t the only disappointment for the Hounds organization, as the announced attendance had to be a bit disheartening with a total of 2,006 fans, especially after a preseason filled with a lot of excitement and anticipation.
The Hounds will return to action next Saturday at Toronto FC II.
Riverhounds Starting XI:
GK – Dan Lynd
D – Ray Lee, Joe Greenspan, Tobi Adewole, Jordan Dover
MF – Joe Holland (Ben Zemanski 63′), Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Kenardo Forbes
F – Kevin Kerr (Neco Brett, 79′), Romeo Parkes, Christiano Francois
Kyle Morton (GK), Kay Banjo, Neco Brett, Mouhammed Dabo, Andrew Lubahn, Todd Pratzner, Ben Zemanski
Penn FC Starting XI:
Romuald Peiser (GK) – Jake Bond, Tiago Calvano, Kenneth Tribbett– Salvatore Barone, Marco Franco, Mauro Eustaquio, Dan Metzger, Calvin Rezende – Lucky Mkosana (Saalih Muhammad 83’), Thomas Heinemann (Jorge Rivera 91’)
Subs not used: Aaron Dennis, Miguel Jaime, Sean Lewis, Richard Menjivar, Chris Hill
PGH – Christiano François 38’ (caution)
PEN – Salvatore Barone 45’ (caution)
PEN – Romuald Peiser 92’ (caution)
Look for more coverage of this match on Sunday — including my game analysis and player ratings.
— USL (@USL) April 1, 2018