Photo courtesy of Wilmington Hammerheads FC
WILMINGTON, N.C. – Sean Okoli moved into a share of the league goal-scoring lead with his 15th of the season and Andrew Wiedeman pushed the advantage to two in the second half as FC Cincinnati earned a 2-0 victory against Wilmington Hammerheads FC on Sunday at Legion Stadium. Cincinnati moved back into third place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the Charlotte Independence, with three regular-season matches remaining. Cincinnati improves to 14-6-7 (49 points) overall and 6-4-3 on the road. Wilmington, which entered the day as the strongest threat to challenge Orlando City B for the eighth and final position in the 2016 USL Playoffs, hurt its chances immensely with the defeat. The Hammerheads fall to 7-12-9 (30 points) overall and 4-5-5 at home. In the only other meeting on April 30, Wilmington and Cincinnati played to a 1-1 draw at Nippert Stadium.
30’ – CIN – Sean Okoli (Jimmy McLaughlin)
64’ – CIN – Andrew Wiedeman (Eric Stevenson)
Three Things That Mattered:
1. Cincinnati’s Sean Okoli has emerged as the first player to join Coventry City loanee Jack McBean of the LA Galaxy II to share the goal-scoring lead when he notched his 15th goal of the season in the 30th minute Sunday. Jimmy McLaughlin provided the setup work down the right flank and then crossed in toward the edge of the six-yard area. Wilmington goalkeeper John Smits, who had made a couple nice diving stops earlier in the half, appeared to have a good opportunity intercept the cross, but the ball trickled past and Okoli redirected into the net for a 1-0 Cincinnati advantage. Okoli has now scored four goals in his three most recent appearances.
2. Andrew Wiedeman notched his seventh goal of the season for Cincinnati after Eric Stevenson crossed the ball in from the right toward the top of the box. Wiedeman fought off a Wilmington defender and Smits, gained the advantage from the left side of the six and slotted it home for a 2-0 advantage. While Cincinnati has not quite secured a top-four finish, Saturday’s victory helped separate the club from the pack below in the Eastern Conference as it looks to host an opening-round match in the 2016 USL Playoffs. Cincinnati is a point ahead of fourth-place Charlotte, with a game in hand, and now four points ahead of both the Charleston Battery and Rochester Rhinos who only have two regular-season games remaining.
3. In contrast to its previous match against Orlando City B, the host Hammerheads threatened the goal on several occasions, with the best chance coming in the 19th minute from Kyle Parker who had an active opening half. Michael Mecham crossed from the right and Jeff Michaud had an effective dummy on the ball as Parker ran in from the left. Parker slid with his left foot from just above the spot and Cincinnati goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt came up with the big save to keep the Hammerheads off the score sheet.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Andrew Wiedeman, FC Cincinnati – Wiedeman put the match away for Cincinnati as he outmuscled Wilmington’s defense for his seventh tally of the year.
Wilmington Hammerheads FC at Harrisburg City Islanders – Sept. 17, 7 p.m. ET, Pucillo Field
FC Cincinnati at Pittsburgh Riverhounds – Sept. 14, 7 p.m. ET, Highmark Stadium