Photo courtesy of Wilmington Hammerheads FC
WILMINGTON, N.C. – The New York Red Bulls II’s Dan Metzger scored a second-half goal and the defense posted yet another shutout for a 1-0 victory against Wilmington Hammerheads FC on Friday at Legion Stadium.
The Red Bulls II’s clean sheet is the fourth consecutive of the season as they improve to 3-0-1 (11 points) overall and 2-0-0 on the road. New York maintains second place in the Eastern Conference as Louisville City FC (12 points) defeated the Harrisburg City Islanders 3-2 on Friday.
Wilmington falls to 2-2-1 (7 points) overall and drop its first game at home with a 1-1-1 record at Legion Stadium.
Wilmington midfielder Jeff Michaud had the game’s first close chance in the early going in the 14th minute. New York’s back line gave Michaud too much space to work with, and with a clear look at the goal, he fired a left-footed shot headed toward the right of the frame that Red Bulls II goalkeeper Rafael Diaz turned away for a Wilmington corner kick.
Wilmington goalkeeper John Smits was called upon in the 19th minute to stop a Red Bulls II header by Konrad Plewa off of a corner kick. Smits had several strong sequences in the early going, not necessarily with attempts on goal, but in fending off NYRB II’s crosses and flank buildup.
The Hammerheads did receive a bit of fortune when New York’s Brandon Allen nearly put his side up in the 31st minute with a shot ringing off the crossbar. However, both teams came up empty in the opening half as the match was scoreless through 45 minutes.
That changed in the second half. Off a set-piece chance, the Red Bulls II gained the upper hand in the 59th minute. Stefano Bonomo headed the ball as he rushed in toward the far left post and Smits came up with a solid reaction save. New York jumped on the rebound as Metzger followed up the shot with an unassisted tally and 1-0 lead.
Hammerheads striker Qudus Lawal challenged on the attack in the 68th minute with a shot from just outside the box, and Diaz came up with a strong save to his left, staying low to keep Wilmington off the score sheet.
In the 72nd minute, an offside call nullified what would have been a Brandon Allen goal for the Red Bulls II, with the visitors continuing to cling on to a one-goal lead.
The match ended with some controversy, however. In stoppage time, Bruno Perone thought he had the equalizer for Wilmington with a side volley, but a foul was already called against the Hammerheads as it was ruled that Wilmington fouled Diaz before Perone’s shot.
April 30: Wilmington Hammerheads FC at FC Cincinnati; Nippert Stadium, 7 p.m. ET
May 1: Charlotte Independence at New York Red Bulls II; Red Bull Arena, 5 p.m. ET
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Dan Metzger, New York Red Bulls II - After several close chances by the Red Bulls II in the first half, the away team's persistence paid off as Metzger's rebound was the difference to lead New York.