Photo courtesy Chris Cowger / Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
PITTSBURGH — Two goalkeepers were at their best to keep the Keystone Derby Cup match between Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC and Penn FC scoreless at Highmark Stadium on Saturday night. The undefeated Hounds took hold of the match early, holding a clear lead in the possession battle but with the match being a derby, Penn FC made life hard for the hosts trapping them in midfield for much of the early stages. In the 24th minute Riverhounds SC forward Romeo Parkes showed his trademark speed and ran through on goal before unleashing a shot which was well saved by Penn netminder Romuald Peiser. The rebound fell to Pittsburgh captain Kevin Kerr, but he got under the ball and could only send it over the bar. Chances were rare for Penn in the first half but in the 36th minute Riverhounds SC goalkeeper Dan Lynd had to be at his best to keep the match scoreless when a pass deflected to Penn's Aaron Dennis clear of the defense, but Lynd was quick off his line to get his body in the way and smother the ball. Early in the second half Lynd nearly sent the ball into his own net as he was forced off his line to clear, only to send that clearance off Penn's Tommy Heinemann, but the defense got back quickly, working together to clear the danger. Peiser put his body on the line in the 64th minute to keep Parkes from opening the scoring as a blocked shot fell to the Hounds' forward. The Penn FC goalkeeper made himself big and blocked the ball seemingly with his face, and got quickly back to work after receiving treatment. With seven minutes to play Lynd saved the day for the Hounds as he was able to get a hand to the shot from Penn's Richie Menjivar to send it onto the post on the way out. The last chance fell to the hosts in stoppage time when Pittsburgh substitute Neco Brett thought he’d scored the winner, only to be denied by the offside flag to leave the clash scoreless.
Three Things That Matter:
1. Yet again the Hounds were determined defensively, as has been the case all season and the hosts continued an impressive record in the Keystone Derby Cup as they held Penn scoreless for a fifth straight meeting between the clubs, something that Penn FC has to change ahead of the cup decider in Harrisburg on September 26.
2. Penn FC has managed to win its duels through the season, and that continued in this match, with the visitors winning 56.6 percent of the battles for the ball. That means that the side can clearly win those battles but with a shot conversion rate of just 8.4 percent on the season the side needs to do better with the ball that they win going forward.
3. With 13 shots in the match, and five on target, Pittsburgh was the stronger of the two sides, and while Head Coach Bob Lilley has gained a reputation for stern defense it is becoming clear his side can attack. Lilley will need to keep working with his side on finishing to be a threat as the season carries on and will have little time to do it, facing a strong Nashville side on Wednesday night.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Romuald Peiser, Penn FC – With five saves in the match, many of them last ditch saves to keep the match scoreless, Peiser was vital in getting his team a point, often putting his body on the line to keep Pittsburgh out.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC vs. Nashville SC – May 30, 7p.m. ET, Highmark Stadium
Penn FC vs. Nashville SC — June 2, 7:30p.m. ET, First Tennessee Park