And a weather delay during the annual 4th of July game at Highmark Stadium.
Have to give credit to John Krysinsky for that statement. The Pittsburgh Riverhounds played host to Bethlehem Steel FC on Thursday in the annual 4th of July match at Highmark Stadium.
As pregame warm-ups were wrapping up and we were getting set to start the match at 7 pm, there was a bolt of lightening over the City of Pittsburgh which forced everyone to clear the stands and field as we began the match in a weather delay.
After a 50-minute delay, the match began at 7:50 pm and with the slick playing surface and ball, both teams seemed to be playing a little cautious in the 1st half as the teams headed into the halftime locker room scoreless.
Things were a little chippy in the 1st half, but the chippiness really started to pick up in the 2nd half and the yellow cards started to be shown from the official in this Pittsburgh-Bethlehem Steel rivalry.
“They’re (Bethlehem Steel) athletically a very tough out, they’re big kids, even the younger ones are solid, they’re soiid, they’re athletic,” said Head Coach Bob Lilley.
“I don’t think we created a ton of clear cut opportunities, but we had a number of crosses, I would’ve liked to seen us hungrier when we won balls high up the pitch to get in behind them and I think we had moments where we should’ve been able to create something and we ended a lot of those without a shot.”
The Riverhounds were able to get the first, and only, goal they needed when they were awarded a free kick just outside of the penalty area in the 2nd half and Kenardo Forbes stepped up and delivered.
Forbes had a chance on a free kick in the 1st half where he decided to serve it in looking for someone on the other end and they didn’t convert. On his second opportunity, he decided to take the chance and put the Riverhounds on the scoreboard.
“Because in the first half I crossed the first one, so kind of trick the goalkeeper. He’s looking for the cross and I just surprised him,” Forbes said.
Once Kenardo hit it — he knew it was going in.
“That’s a celebration,” the veteran added as he started to put up his hand right after connecting with the ball. “That was a celebration. As soon as I hit it, I knew it was in, so, that was a celebration.”
With the 1-0 victory Thursday over Bethlehem Steel FC, the Riverhounds extend their winning streak to four games, including winning all three games on the three-game home stretch.
“It’s a great feeling, I mean three games at home and we won all three games so it’s a good feeling,” said Forbes. “Guys are confident going into Sunday against Charlotte, so hope we can keep it going on the road also.”
As the Riverhounds start to climb the USL Championship Eastern Conference and begin to look like the team many expected them to be before the season, teams are not going to just rollover for them and are going to give them a battle each and every match.
“As we climb the table, we’re going to have to win these types of games,” said Lilley.
“I think people below you in the standings are always going to be a massive target and people are trying to drag us back and we’re trying to keep climbing. It was a more significant game than most would typically think and I think for that reason I’m proud of that we found a way to get the goal and we stayed aggressive and we’re able to close the deal tonight. It’s an important three points.”
Pittsburgh now has 25 points and in 8th place in the Eastern Conference, which is 11 points behind first place Tampa Bay, but the Riverhounds have still played two fewer matches than the Rowdies, a team that will be coming to Highmark Stadium next Saturday.
But first things first.
UP NEXT:QUICK TURN-AROUND VS CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE
The Riverhounds head to Charlotte to take on the Independence on Sunday before returning home for two matches.
“We rested enough guys that we should have some fresh legs for Sunday,” Lilley said of the upcoming test. “I know Charlotte played tonight, so they’ll probably have some squad rotation. The trick was to try to take some educated risks so we could get the points and still have enough for Sunday. Part one is done, [and] hopefully the guys that are asked to step on the field on Sunday are ready for a good Charlotte team recently.”
Pittsburgh and Charlotte played to a scoreless draw when the Independence visited Highmark Stadium in May, but Charlotte seems to be playing much better since their recent coaching change.
“A good Charlotte team recently with the coaching change they’ve been playing well,” said Lilley.
“I don’t know what their result was tonight, but they’ve been in better form and they have quality on their roster so that will be easy in Charlotte. I’m sure it will be nice and toasty in Charlotte on Sunday.”
Charlotte played to a 1-1 draw against North Carolina FC Thursday night.
Kenardo Forbes created the fireworks on the field for the Riverhounds, there were fireworks in the backdrop of Highmark Stadium near the end of the match and postgame and this Pittsburgh team looks to keep things rolling on Sunday as they look to extend their winning streak.
The Riverhounds can’t look ahead past Sunday though, but we can as media and fans. After the game in Charlotte, the Riverhounds return home to face first place Tampa Bay on Saturday July 13 and North Carolina FC on Saturday July 20.