The Richmond Kickers earned a point in a 1-1 draw against the Wilmington Hammerheads, but it is a point that feels like a loss. While the teams played evenly the first 65 minutes, the Kickers turned up the pressure in the second half. A pair of goals kept each side even, but some questionable reffing and a lack of finesse on the final touches kept Richmond from the full three points.
The first half was a choppy, grinding affair that saw neither team take control. The Kickers had the better of possession throughout the half, but the Hammerheads had the slightly better chances on goal. Both of the Kickers central attacking midfielders, Stanley Nyazamba and Joseph Ngwenya, chose to tee up their own shots rather than trying to play a final pass to a teammate. While that strategy can work if the shots are on goal, none of their tries ever tested the keeper. Michael Seaton also had a poor first half, unable to hold the ball up well. He had a golden oppotunity on a breakaway, where he showed skill to beat the second to last defender to put himself one on one with the last one. However, indecision on his part led to the defenders catching up and to the attack being defused.
The second half was a mirror of the first, with both teams struggling to create meaningful chances. Michael Seaton and Stanley Nyazamba were the first players to make way, with Joseph Ngwenya coming off as well around the 75th minute. The game came alive soon thereafter, with Philippe Davies scoring a long range blast after Mike Callahan laid the ball off to him. Just a minute later, the Hammerheads responded, with a physical challenge leaving Yomby on the ground and the goal in the back of the net. The ref seemed to fall asleep in the last few minutes, waving off a foul called by one of his assistants, didn't even call a foul on a studs up challenged right into Andrew Dykstra's chest, and missed other smaller fouls as well. The Kickers were dangerous, but just not quite soon enough.
My Kickers man of the match is Mike Callahan, whose disruptive play in the center of midfield is always his biggest asset, and his assist today pushed him over the top. The Kickers are back in action next Friday, when the Antigua Barracuda come back to town, with two games left in their epic season opening homestand.