The Richmond Kickers haven’t won a game in 10 matches, and they weren’t able to break that streak Saturday night against Charlotte Independence. A first half penalty put the Kickers in a hole they weren’t able to climb out of at City Stadium.
Late match heroics from newly signed Franck Tayou earned the Kickers a point last week, but Tayou would not receive the start against Charlotte. Instead Leigh Cowlishaw placed Anthony Grant up top, putting pressure on Grant to perform with Tayou on the bench and hungry for playing time.
Even with the loss, Richmond wasn’t short on chances. Chris Durkin had a great game, kicking things off in the 4th minute with a beautiful through ball to Grant. Charlotte keeper Cody Mizell came off his line and blocked the ball away.
The Kickers press continued in the 9th minute when Luiz Fernando sent in a cross from the left side that was chested down in the box by Raul Gonzalez. The ball fell to Grant, who muscled back his defender but completely whiffed when he tried to make contact with the ball. It was a golden opportunity directly in front of the net that Grant failed to take advantage of.
Most of Charlotte’s goals this year came from steady build up play and quick passes. Their best chance early in the game came in the 26th minute when defender Henry Kalungi brought the ball out of the back and found Austin Yearwood wide open down the left side. Yearwood’s low cross with pace was deflected by Braeden Troyer, which unfortunately teed up Enzo Martinez. Martinez’s shot was dangerous but slightly off target, rocketing wide left of the post.
Richmond created a flurry of chances towards the end of the first half, but Charlotte would prove the most dangerous side after earning a penalty. David Estrada was chasing down a through ball in the box when Richmond defender Conor Shanosky made contact and took him down. It appeared to be a case of shoulder to shoulder play and tangled feet, but a penalty was awarded. Enzo Martinez placed his low shot perfectly into the side netting, putting Charlotte up 1-0 at the half.
Things didn’t start well after the break for the Kickers when Fernando, initially with a good effort to drive at goal, went down without contact and was cautioned for simulation. Richmond continued to press. A Raul Gonzalez shot deflected back to the top of the box, and Durkin stepped up and cracked an on-target shot which forced a punch out save by Mizell.
Fernando nearly redeemed himself in the 52nd minute when he forced a diving save from Mizell. Durkin, who looked strong the entire 90 minutes and controlled the midfield, set up Fernando with a shot from the right side of the box. Mizell dove to his right and barely deflected the ball out for a corner.
Richmond’s two dozen shots on the night would be for naught. Charlotte’s Joel Johnson drove in uncontested down the right side in the 58th minute, beating Braeden Troyer and sending in a cross to Enzo Martinez. He tallied his 2nd goal of the night with a point blank header and put Charlotte up 2-0.
The Charlotte keeper had a great night. A Troyer chip into the box found aerial specialist Mallan Roberts, and his ensuing header was only kept out by the fingertips of Mizell. Immediately after on a Richmond corner, Franck Tayou made a powerful header on target, but straight at Mizell, who successfully cradled the ball.
The 2-0 loss comes at a tough time for Richmond. It won’t get any easier over the next few weeks, as their next three matches are on the road against Bethlehem City Steel FC, FC Cincinnati and Harrisburg City Islanders. On a positive note, Durkin is playing beyond his years and looks confident both on defense and in the attack.