The Richmond Kickers saw their prospects for a home playoff game dwindle Wednesday as they drew 0-0 against Charlotte Independence at City Stadium. With both teams seeking the top four spot required to host a playoff game, the game was chippy but also low on mistakes. In the first half, eleven fouls were called and only 5 shots taken in total. In a game with precious few chances for both sides, Richmond bookended the match with two goals called back to the chagrin of the home fans.
Still, Travis Worra secured a shutout and gained confidence while Miguel Aguilar played the entire ninety minutes, bolstering the Richmond attack. Former D.C. United midfielder Paul Clowes, now a member of the Charlotte Independence, took the field for the visitors.
Richmond got off to a seemingly perfect start in the 2nd minute. Immediately after the opening whistle, a charging Brian Ownby, fresh back from injury, drew a foul thirty yards out from the Charlotte goal. A cheeky trick set piece resulted in Fred Owusu Sekyere sending in a perfect ball to the far post. It was headed in by former United homegrown defender Conor Shanosky, who was just signed by Richmond two weeks ago. Unfortunately Shanosky’s goal was called back by referee Matthew Franz, citing infringement by Richmond defender Hugh Roberts.
Sekyere again made an impact, nearly scoring in the 16th minute. Following a Richmond corner, Sekyere collected the ball at the top of the eighteen and blasted a strike that soared just over the bar. It would be the last solid attempt at goal by Richmond before halftime. Neither team was able to break the deadlock during the first half, and in fact neither keeper would truly be tested until late in the match.
Knowing a win was key to gaining home field advantage in the playoffs, coach Leigh Cowlishaw made an attack-minded substitution in the 58th minute. Anthony Grant came on for Sunny Jane, and defender Alex Lee came off in favor of Scott Thomsen.
Right after the change, Grant nearly grabbed the lead for Richmond. A long throw-in from Roberts found the head of Ownby, who flicked the ball on dangerously in front of the Charlotte net. Grant came sprinting up but couldn’t connect in time, and the ball bounced harmlessly out for a goal kick.
Charlotte found their stride in the final twenty minutes. Enzo Martinez had a shot from the top of the box in the 68th minute that sailed wide, but was too close for comfort. Ownby answered with a shot of his own in the 79th that was on target, but handled by keeper John Berner.
The home crowd would again be disappointed with a Richmond goal that was called back by the officials. In the 84th minute, Ownby drove down the right side and almost to the touch line before crossing the ball back in front of goal. Grant was able to get on the end of it and put the ball in the net, but the linesman called him offside. It appeared that defender Bilal Duckett was between Grant and the goal, and coach Cowlishaw made his disapproval known.
Neither team was able to make the most of three minutes of stoppage time, and the match ended in a disappointing 0-0 draw. Richmond hosts long-time rivals Charleston Battery this Saturday, September 17th, the last home game of the season. They end their campaign on the road in Wilmington the following Saturday. To have any chance at securing home field advantage during the playoffs, the Kickers need to win both matches. On a positive note, the club is set to break its regular season attendance record, evidence of growing support for "the beautiful game" in Richmond.