Richmond Kickers fans gathered Saturday night at City Stadium to commemorate the career of all-time leading scorer Matthew Delicate. Born in Kent, England, Delicate tallied 113 goals in 249 appearances over 10 seasons with Richmond before retiring after last season. Unfortunately for the home crowd, the post-Delicate era scoring woes for the Kickers continued as they struggled to find the net. The visiting Harrisburg City Islanders were coming off back to back losses and had fallen to Richmond earlier in the season, but Saturday’s game ended 0-0.
D.C. United’s Alhaji Kamara would play the full 90 minutes, but wasn’t able to make much of an impact on the game. Richmond was excited to welcome back Yudai Imura to the starting 11, and though he appeared fit, he wasn’t able to deliver a strike to turn the tide of the game. Richmond assumed an 4-2-3-1 formation with Kamara up top and Imura, Sunny Jane and Luiz Fernando backing him up midfield.
Harrisburg appeared the stronger team early, gaining most of the possession in the first twenty minutes. Cardel Benbow was able to turn Richmond defender Braeden Troyer in the 9th minute and get into a dangerous position in the box. Troyer was able to cut off just enough space that Benbow’s strike sailed just wide of goal.
The City Islanders pushed forward again in the 16th minute, with Benbow one-on-one against defender Evan Lee. Benbow made a cheeky juke to get around Lee, but a quick-thinking Mallan Roberts slid in and deflected the shot.
The Kickers roared back three minutes later. Great combination play between Imura and Troyer down the left resulted in Jane teeing up a shot to the far side of goal that unfortunately failed to hit the target. Build up play from the back saw Jane get a better chance in the 36th minute. Imura passed to an open Jane, and from 25 yards out he made a cracking strike that a diving Harrisburg keeper Brandon Miller barely deflected out for a corner.
After the break, Leigh Cowlishaw made two changes to shore up the attack and push for three points. Sunny Jane and Luiz Fernando made way for Jackson Eskay and Finnlay Wyatt. Wyatt made an impact immediately. Fred Owusu Sekyere battled off three Harrisburg defenders, and falling to the ground, somehow made a pass to Wyatt. With Richmond players crowding the box, Wyatt sent in an accurate cross to Roberts, whose header nearly put Richmond in the lead.
The end of the match saw a flurry of Richmond chances, but none would find the net. In the 89th minute, a Richmond free kick resulted in Alex Lee sending in a dangerous cross to a throng of waiting Richmond players in the box. Eskay first took a shot but was deflected, the ball then fell to Anthony Grant who miffed his chance and a poor Harrisburg clearance ended up with Wyatt outside the box. The way was clear, but Wyatt’s shot rolled wide-right of goal.
The 0-0 draw leaves Richmond at 2-4-2 on the season before a three week road trip up north. First, they’ll face off with 2015 USL champions Rochester Rhinos who have since slipped down the table. Toronto FC II and Ottawa Fury FC follow, with both assuming positions at the very bottom of the Eastern Conference. The Kickers will look to get their attacking form back on track against these three vulnerable opponents.