PITTSBURGH, Pa. (July 5, 2018) – North Carolina FC pressed for a result, but the USL’s Eastern Conference contenders, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, held strong and eventually downed NCFC 2-0 at Highmark Stadium on July 4.
After inclement weather disrupted the game in the 18th minute, with the contest tied at 0-0, the teams were forced to wait out what became a nearly three-hour long weather delay. Paired with an additional delay for stadium lighting issues before the second half, the match finally ended after midnight on July 5.
The Riverhounds’ stingy defense held true to its reputation and picked up its 11th shutout of the season despite a valiant attacking effort from NCFC.
Following the weather delay, the teams traded scoring opportunities throughout the remainder of the first half. NCFC’s DJ Taylor was active along the left wing and forced a difficult save from Pittsburgh’s Daniel Lynd in the 22nd minute.
With time winding down in the first half, the Hounds jumped out to a 1-0 lead through a goal from Christiano Francois. The speedy midfielder cut the ball to his right side and launched a shot past NCFC goalkeeper Alex Tambakis for the opening goal.
North Carolina FC came out of the break on the front foot and did well to put pressure on the Pittsburgh backline. Donovan Ewolo had NCFC’s best chance of the night after receiving a ball from Kyle Bekker in the box. While Ewolo did well to send the ball past Lynd and the Pittsburgh defense, his shot bounced off the post and out of play.
NCFC continued to dominate play with the majority of the possession and chances, but the elusive goal remained out of reach.
In the 71st minute, Pittsburgh took advantage of NCFC’s high press and extended its lead against the run of play. Kevin Kerr jumped high to meet a cross from Kenardo Forbes and perfectly placed his header past Tambakis. The shot hit the far post and bounced into the back of the net to give the Hounds a 2-0 lead.
The backline for Pittsburgh held off another late push from NCFC in the final minutes of the contest to hold on for the win.
Coming Up Next:
NCFC returns home to Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park to face the Charleston Battery for Wizard Night on Saturday, July 7 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available online, over the phone at 919-459-8144 or in person at the Coastal Credit Union Box Office.
NCFC Youth Academy products DJ Taylor and Dre Fortune both earned spots in the starting lineup, while former NCFC U-23 players and TFCA (now NCFC Youth) product Cameron Steele made the bench.
It was the first-ever meeting between the two sides.
A weather delay stopped the match in the 18th minute and lasted 173 minutes.
Nelson Blanco made his USL debut, checking in to the match in the 85th minute.
PGH: (4-5-1): Daniel Lynd; Raymond Lee, Tobi Adewole, Joseph Greenspan, Kenardo Forbes (Hugh Roberts, 73’), Jordan Dover, Kevin Kerr (Andrew Lubahn, 78’), Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Christiano Francois, Romeo Parkes (Mouhamed Dabo, 62’); Neco Brett
Subs not used: Dennis Chin, Todd Pratzner, Kay Banjo, Michael Kirk
NCFC (3-5-2): Alex Tambakis; Aaron Guillen, Michael Harrington, Connor Tobin © (Kyle Bekker, 46’); DJ Taylor, Austin da Luz, Dre Fortune (Nelson Blanco, 85’), Marcel Kandziora (Daniel Rios, 72’), Steven Miller; Donovan Ewolo, Tiyi Shipalane
Subs not used: Austin Guerrero, Graham Smith, Marios Lomis, Cameron Steele
PGH: Christiano Francois (Raymond Lee, 45’), Kevin Kerr (Kenardo Forbes, 71’)
PGH: Andrew Lubahn, 84’
NCFC: Dre Fortune, 75’, Nelson Blanco, 89’