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Pittsburgh Riverhounds

Riverhounds, Rowdies end scoreless despite improved performance

USL Championship

FINAL: Pittsburgh Riverhounds 0-0 Tampa Bay Rowdies

Hounds provide much-improved performance and secure their first point of the year

In addition to several changes to the starting XI ahead of the match, it was a special pre-game moment when Riverhounds all-time goals leader David Flavius passed on his torch for most appearances for the club to new record-holder Kenardo Forbes – making his 196th all-time appearance to thunderous cheers from the home faithful.

The Hounds came into this one raring to go following a three-game winless start to the year. With a re-tooled starting eleven, the hosts seized immediate control of possession and generated numerous threats during the first half. The first substantial chance of the game came just ten minutes in as a ball over the top of the Rowdies defense found the feet of Sterling running into the 18-yard box. His attempted pass across the box was deflected, but fell to the feet of a charging Robbie Mertz, who fired an effort north of the crossbar.

Moments later, in the 11th minute, the chances would continue to flow for the Hounds. A delightful run by Junior Etou past his defender on the left wing freed him up in some space in the box. Despite being dispossessed, the ball fell to Danny Griffin who’s blast was deflected by a Rowdies defender.

Perhaps the best chance of the half came right at the half-hour mark. Langston Blackstock’s dangerous run down the right flank left him plenty of room to fire a cross to the back post which, after a deflection, again fell to Mertz who’s shot did beat the Rowdies keeper, but was cleared off the line by another Rowdies defender.

Blackstock provided another dangerous cross in the 38th minute, claimed by a quick-off-his-line Jordan Farr, and then another in the 41st minute as he reached the byline with space to fire one into the box. Sterling deftly left the ball alone at the near post, with Kizza lurking just behind, but his effort from the six-yard marker was too high and cleared the crossbar.

Ultimately, we reached the break with the scoreline level and the atmosphere nervous after a similar performance in the home-opener against Orange County, when the Hounds were made to rue their missed opportunities in a 2-0 defeat.

The second half provided even more chances for the Hounds, but no much-desired breakthrough. After a quiet initial 15 minutes, the first chance fell to the feet of Forbes in the Tampa Bay box. His shot was on-frame, but ultimately deflected before reaching goal. Ten minutes later, Sterling seemed to generate another opportunity when he was fouled on a progressive run through midfield about 30 yards from goal, but the free kick yielded little.

The best Hounds chance of the second half came with 15 minutes to play. After finding Kizza in the box, the forward’s shot was deflected to the feet of Bradley Sample, who fired an effort of his own that was also pinged out of play for a corner.

Ultimately, Eric Dick would be called to save a point for the Hounds when the Rowdies drew a free kick 20 yards from goal. A stellar effort from Lewis Hilton was on-frame, top-right corner, and Dick fully laid out and was able to parry away a sure goal. That proved to be the final opportunity of the night for either side as the final whistle blew with zeroes on the scoreboard.

The Hounds will celebrate finally securing their first point of the year, against another difficult opponent to open the year, and with their best performance to-date. While work remains to turn one point into three, Bob Lilley and his squad showed much more of what was expected of them entering the year.

The Hounds return to action next Saturday as they visit Rhode Island FC and former Hound Albert Dikwa.

Match Events

Pittsburgh Riverhounds starters: Eric Dick (GK), Danny Griffin (c), Pat Hogan, Langston Blackstock, Junior Etou, Kenardo Forbes, Luke Biasi, Robbie Mertz, Illal Osumanu, Kazaiah Sterling

Subs: Dani Rovira, Sean Suber, EJ Johnson, Aidan O’Toole, Gabriel Perrotta, Bradley Sample, Babacar Diene

Tampa Bay Rowdies starters: Jordan Farr (GK), Jordan Doherty, Forrest Lasso, Aaron Guillen (c), Eddie Munjoma, Lewis Hilton, Joey Dezart, Blake Bodily, Danny Crisostomo, Cal Jennings, Manueal Arteaga

Subs: Phil Breno, Freddy Kleemann, Pacifique Niyongabire, Damian Rivera, Cristian Ortiz, Nick Skubis, Joshua Perez

Key moments: 

0′ – The players take to the field, Pittsburgh in their home black and Rowdies in road greens, and we are underway at Highmark.

6′ – First corner of the evening won by the Hounds by Blackstock. Taken too short and cleared out of play.

9′ – First chance of the night for the Hounds! A ball over the top to Sterling finds his feet, and after some fancy footwork his pass across the box is deflected, but straight to Robbie Mertz, who fires his attempt over the crossbar.

11′ – Another chance as Junior Etou deftly slips past his defender into the box, the ball is tackled away but falls to the feet of Danny Griffin, who’s shot attempt is ultimately blocked. Lots of bodies forward early for the Hounds.

16′ – An early yellow for the Rowdies, as Aaron Guillen comes over the top on Kizza on clearance towards midfield. After a brief moment down from the hard collision, both players get back up and the card comes out.

18′ – Another chance for the Hounds as Kizza gets on the end of a ball into the box, but puts his effort wide.

19′ – Foul in the attacking half won by the Hounds, quickly taken on the left wing to Biasi who lays off to Etou. A pinpoint accurate cross to the back post finds the feet of Pat Hogan, who’s shot on target is cleared off the line by a Rowdies defender.

30′ – Another chance for the Hounds as a clever through ball to the right flank finds Blackstock. His cross towards the back post is deflected before falling to Mertz’s feet, who fires a shot on goal, parried by the Rowdies keeper.

38′ – Another dangerous cross from the right flank as Blackstock fires in a driven ball towards the runs of both Kizza and Sterling – Farr quick off his line to claim it.

41′ – Yet another missed opportunity, Blackstock crosses in from the right byline, Sterling dummies and lets it run through, Kizza finds it and blasts it over from six yards out.

42′ – A chance for the Rowdies after a poor turnover in the defensive third from Etou. It’s turned around by Eddie Munjoma and fired just wide of goal.

45+1′ – A final corner before half for the Hounds, taken by Forbes but ultimately cleared away as the final action of the half.

Halftime

46′ – Second half underway, no changes for either team during the break.

59′ – First Hounds corner of the second half. Forbes takes short, and a second attempt to deliver a ball into the box is blocked and cleared.

62′ – Another progressive moment for the Hounds, as Forbes gets on the ball in the box but his shot is deflected.

62′ – Tampa Bay substitution. Joshua Perez in to replace Joey Dezart.

69′ – Foul in the attacking third as Sterling is dribbling forward and is brought down from behind. Hounds players surround the ref asking for a card, but none is forthcoming.

73′ – Two subs for the Hounds: Babacar Diene and Bradley Sample on, Kazaiah Sterling and Kenardo Forbes off.

74′ – Another pair of chances for the Hounds – Kizza fires a shot that reflects off a defender, picked up by Sample who blasts it off another defender’s head for a corner.

76′ – Rowdies subs: Damian Rivera and Pacifique Niyongabire on, Cal Jennings and Aaron Guillen off

82′ – A bad foul 20 yards from goal hands the Rowdies a dangerous free kick, perhaps their best chance of the night so far. A fantastic take from Lewis Hilton is on-target and brilliantly parried by a diving Eric Dick. The subsequent ball in is easily claimed and the opportunity is staved off.

84′ – A pair of Hounds subs: Blackstock, Etou off, Sean Suber and Aidan O’Toole on – including the latter’s debut

89′ – A yellow card issued to Bradley Sample for a bad tackle near midfield, first for the Hounds tonight

FULLTIME – Riverhounds 0-0 Rowdies

Glory on the Grass

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Riverhounds MF Kenardo Forbes

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