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Richmond Kickers finally find the net in win over Bethlehem Steel

The Kickers’ 3-2 win was their first victory since April

Sandy Williams

Good news out of Richmond over the weekend. The Kickers broke their 13 game winless streak during an epic 3-2 match, and D.C. United loanee Jalen Robinson played a big part in the victory over Bethlehem Steel FC.

Richmond was committed to the attack, throwing players forward early and often. Rather than play the ball out wide, they continually pressed down the middle and on the ground, which they haven’t done much of this season.

Brazilian Oliver Minatel made the most of his start up top for Richmond. In the 27th minute, a Raul Gonzalez cross found the other Brazilian Kicker, Luiz Fernando. His shot was blocked but fell to Oliver, who rattled the crossbar with a strike

Despite all their forward momentum, early on, Richmond wasn’t the first to score. A Bethlehem free kick saw Aaron Jones standing over the ball in nearly the exact same spot where he scored against the Kickers earlier this month in Bethlehem. Sure enough, he beat the Richmond wall and buried his shot near post, putting the Steel up 1-0.

Bethlehem nearly doubled their lead right before the break. During back and forth play, a Bethlehem cross to the far post resulted in a powerful and unmarked header that Matt Turner somehow cradled to the ground.

Coach Leigh Cowlishaw must have given an inspiring pep talk in the locker room during halftime. In the 46th minute, captain William Yomby sent an accurate long ball from the back to Fernando, and he chested the ball down to Oliver 30 yards out. Oliver picked his spot and struck, sending the ball bouncing past keeper Tomas Romero and into the net for his first goal of the season.

Not even two minutes later Jalen Robinson earned an assist. At the right touchline, Gonzalez made a cheeky backheel pass to Robinson, who sent in a low and accurate cross in front of goal. It missed Oliver but found Fernando at the far post, who buried his shot and put Richmond ahead 2-1.

The match was far from settled. Oliver almost made it three for the Kickers, but was denied by an offside flag, allowing Bethlehem to answer. In the 69th minute, the ball was switched left to a wide open Auston Trusty. Trusty dribbled towards goal and crossed the ball low towards Ken Tribbett, who redirected it past Turner and into the net.

Knowing they needed a win in front of the home fans, Cowlishaw made a few changes to bolster the attack and reinforce his defense. Conor Shanosky came on for Yomby while Finnlay Wyatt and Franck Tayou assumed attacking roles.

Richmond seemingly won a penalty when Wyatt was taken down in the box in a collision with Romero and a Bethlehem defender. Initially the referee pointed to the spot, but in a rare case of a reversed call, the assistant referee successfully argued that there wasn’t much in either challenge. Bethlehem received a goal kick instead.

The bad luck that has plagued Richmond all season seemed to have stolen this match as well. The Kickers needed a hero, and they got one in the form of veteran midfielder Samuel Asante. In the 87th minute, Asante drove towards goal, and as two defenders closed in, he cracked a shot from 25 yards out that grazed the far post and bounced into the net. It was his first goal of the season, and a critical one at that, putting Richmond ahead 3-2. His late game heroics secured three points for Richmond and lifted them off the bottom of the table.

The schedule is full for the Kickers as they visit Charlotte Independence for a midweek game this Wednesday. They return home Saturday, July 29th, to face Saint Louis FC, the first meeting between these two squads this season.