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Riverhounds Reaction: Unyielding Memphis execute in big moments

Photo courtesy Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

In a battle for positioning between two teams in the top four of USL Championship’s Eastern Conference standings, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC had intentions of coming away with a statement win.

Instead, it was the visitors, Memphis 901 FC, who proved they were up-to-the-task and worthy of holding on to the third place spot in the table by taking a 2-0 victory against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC at Highmark Stadium on Saturday night.

It was Memphis’ (15-5-3) first-ever win against Pittsburgh (13-7-4), in four matches between the clubs since they came into the league in 2019.  With the impressive road win, the visitors move five points ahead of the Hounds in the Eastern Conference, as they seize a tighter grip on third place.

Preview: Memphis means BBQ! And footie on a baseball field

Despite the Riverhounds coming out early in the match to set the tone with solid possession and a few deep advances, Memphis took advantage of an early opportunity with a stunning, brilliant individual effort by Luis Fernando, then added Aaron Malloy’s tally in the 74th minute to break an intense battle as the Hounds were pushing numbers forward with little success.

The match tilted in Memphis’ favor early on, in the 6th minute when Fernando was happy to collect a ball after a 50-50 battle between Robbie Mertz and Rece Buckmaster resulted in a bounce toward the Brazilian midfielder.

Fernando then dashed forward with a line of Hounds defenders giving him room outside the box, then as he fell down, fired a left-footed dart, catching Hounds keeper Jahmali Waite slightly off-guard, slotting his shot inside the right post.

Riverhounds SC Head Coach Bob Lilley wasn’t pleased with his team’s effort to close down the space to prevent Fernando from having any chance to shoot in that situaton.

We had four guys behind, supporting the play, but none stepped up, and a goalkeeper not ready to make a save,” Lilley said.

“It’s a mental error to give that much space, when we have that many guys back there. Tough way to concede an early goal.”

Hounds forward Albert Dikwa was on the end of numerous first half chances, but failed to convert each time.

Dikwa’s best chances came in the latter stages of the first half, First, Dikwa intercepted a pass, then split a pair of Memphis defenders in the 35th minute, but pulled his shot right.  A few minutes later, with room on the right side, his next shot was on frame, but Memphis goalkeeper Trey Muse was there with a diving save to deny the Hounds’ equalizer.

At the half, the Hounds held the edge in shots (10-3, 2-1 on frame) and possession with 57% of the ball.

Memphis dug in, remaining well-organized in the second half to limit Pittsburgh’s chances.  Outside of substitute Dane Kelly’s shot from outside the box that banged off the top of the crossbar, the Hounds couldn’t create much damage.

The visitors doubled their lead when its leading scorer, Phillip Goodrum, found Jeremy Kelly on the far left side with a brilliant switch from the right sideline.  This opened up the attack for Memphis, as Kelly found Molloy breaking into the box to give them a 2-0 lead.

After the match, we caught up with Bob Lilley and Hounds captain/midfielder Kenardo Forbes.

POST MATCH INTERVIEWS 

(with Riverhounds SC Head Coach Bob Lilley & Captain/MF Kenardo Forbes)

 

POST MATCH REACTION

(with Pittsburgh Soccer Now’s John Krysinsky & MegaNota’s Armedeo Eichberg)

TWITTER REACTION 

 

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. 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).

Riverhounds MF Danny Griffin

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