Photo courtesy Harrisburg City Islanders
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Harrisburg City Islanders’ Ropapa Mensah scored his first goal for the club to earn a 1-0 victory against the Richmond Kickers on Saturday night at FNB Field. Cardel Benbow had an early chance for Harrisburg and forced a tipped save by Kickers goalkeeper Matt Turner at the near post from the right side of the penalty area. The teams then exchanged chances, with Richmond’s Sunny Jane shooting high and wide from distance, while the City Islanders went closer as Paul Wilson fired just wide from the top of the penalty area in the 27th minute. The Kickers went close early in the second half as Samuel Asante found space at the far post off Braeden Troyer’s cross, but could only find the side-netting from a tight angle. Harrisburg’s Mensah should have given the hosts the lead as a good cutback by John Grosh found him alone at the penalty spot, but his shot was scuffed wide. Mensah redeemed himself with 14 minutes to go, however, as he controlled a pass by Abass Mohamed in the left side of the penalty area and drove home a turning shot into the right corner of the net for the lead. Richmond pressed late to try and find an equalizer, but the hosts held firm to earn their fourth win in the past five games.
76’ – HAR – Ropapa Mensah (Abass Mohamed)
Three Things That Matter:
1. The City Islanders’ push for the playoffs continued to roll forward as the side claimed its fourth win in the past four outings on Saturday night. Harrisburg is now, maybe improbably given its start to the season, sitting in the eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference at the end of the week’s action. The challenge to continue that momentum, and complete a perfect homestand, is a big one with the Charlotte Independence the visitor on Tuesday night at FNB Field, but Harrisburg is starting to look like a side that has the composure to compete for a return to the postseason.
2. Harrisburg had the better of the game, particularly in the first half, but the City Islanders’ finishing went missing on the night as for all the opportunities they created, they didn’t force Kickers goalkeeper Matt Turner into a meaningful save in the opening hour outside of a near-post chance that saw Cardel Benbow get in behind the defense on the left early. After missing a gilt-edged opportunity in the second half, however, 19-year-old Ropapa Mensah rose to the occasion as his first goal for the City Islanders was a beauty, leaving Turner little chance with his fierce strike to the right corner.
3. The Kickers were once again well in the game, and had some chances to find the net before the City Islanders opened the scoring. In the end, the story of Richmond’s disappointing finishing continued as they remained last in the Eastern Conference after being held scoreless for the fifth time in the last seven games. Kickers Head Coach Leigh Cowlishaw said prior to the season this would be the toughest year on the field the Kickers had faced, but it’s unlikely he saw things playing out quite this way.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Ropapa Mensah, Harrisburg City Islanders – Mensah’s first goal for the City Islanders sent the side to its fourth win in its last five outings, and another big boost in the playoff race.
Harrisburg City Islanders vs. Charlotte Independence – July 18, 7 p.m. ET, FNB Field
Richmond Kickers vs. Bethlehem Steel FC – July 22, 7 p.m. ET, City Stadium