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Richmond Kickers extend unbeaten streak to eight games with draw

A 1-1 draw with Orlando City B keeps the Kickers in fourth place

Anthony Grant notched his second goal of the season Sunday night to nab Richmond a point on the road against Orlando City B. Richmond’s unbeaten streak extends to eight, and with Charleston Battery tying Wilmington Hammerheads FC Saturday, the Kickers maintain fourth place in the USL eastern conference.

Miguel Aguilar joined Richmond for the trip south and Andrew Dykstra again got the start in goal. Dykstra would prove key in securing the draw. The game was scoreless in the first forty-four minutes of play, with Yudai Imura having the best opportunity for the Kickers in the 24th minute. Imura sent in a through ball to Sunny Jane down the right side, and in turn Jane squared up with Imura at the top of the box. Imura made solid contact and nearly notched his tenth goal of the season. Orlando keeper Mark Ridgers had other plans and was able to get a foot to the ball, knocking it out of danger.

A controversial penalty call resulted in Orlando taking the lead just before the half. It all began in the 40th minute when Richmond’s Samuel Asante was taken down by Harrison Heath. Suffering an injury that would see him subbed off before the break, Asante struggled to mark at the midfield line and an Orlando pass found Richie Laryea inside the Richmond box.

Alex Lee cut off the angle for Laryea, who doubled back towards the edge of the penalty area. Lee chased behind, the two seemed to clip legs, and Laryea went to ground. Immediately the referee gave the penalty to the protest of the Kickers, and Michael Cox slotted the shot home, putting Orlando up 1-0 at the half.

Small recompense to the Kickers, Harrison Heath received a yellow card for the tackle on Asante that set the events in motion which led to the goal. He would later be subbed off in the 2nd half for Lewis Neal, the former D.C. United midfielder who is now part of the Orlando franchise as a player and academy coach.

After the break, Richmond pushed forward to find an answer. In the 53rd minute, Richmond drew level. Ten consecutive passes in Orlando’s half led to Braeden Troyer springing Sunny Jane into the penalty area. Jane dribbled to the touch line and passed back to Anthony Grant, who even at a tight angle side-footed the ball past Ridgers and into the net.

The match would remain level, but only because of the quick reflexes of Dykstra. Michael Cox would twice try to sneak the ball past Dykstra as the game drew to a close, but the D.C. United loanee denied him both times. In the 73rd minute, Richmond’s defense boxed in Cox outside the penalty area, but still he found space and sent in a curving shot to the right side of goal. Dykstra read the strike well and was able to deflect it away.

Battling for the final slot in the USL playoffs, Orlando pressed their attack towards the end of the match, grasping for three points at home. In literally the last play of the game, an Orlando long ball into the box was headed down to Cox, who took a shot at point blank range. Luckily for Richmond, Dykstra was able to parry it away.

With the 1-1 draw, Richmond maintains its tenuous hold on fourth place in the standings, which would secure home field advantage in the impending USL playoffs. The Kickers and Orlando are playing a home and home series, as Orlando travels to City Stadium to take on Richmond for the second week in a row this Saturday, August 27.