Wilmington Hammerheads Press Release
Wilmington, NC – Charlotte Independence moves closer into playoff contention following a 1-0 victory against Wilmington Hammerheads FC at Legion Stadium on Thursday night. The two clubs are scheduled to meet again in two days as the Hammerheads travel to Charlotte for their final road match of the season.
The victory puts Charlotte even with the Richmond Kickers in the Eastern Conference playoff race with only a handful of regular season matches remaining as the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Harrisburg City Islanders trail by mere and attainable points.
Daniel Jackson was the first to create an opportunity for Charlotte on Thursday night as he generated a long cross over the penalty area, but lofting it too high and out of Independence reach. It was Hammerheads forward Aaron Wheeler that began to gain the attention of the 2,470 fans at Legion Stadium early in the first half after he almost caught the end of a header following a free kick by Corben Bone. Charlotte goalkeeper John Berner was able to defend Wheeler by getting a partial touch on the ball, enough to deflect it just wide of the penalty area and out of immediate play. Wheeler followed with a shot minutes later that hit off the far right post and out of bounds.
Enzo Martinez and Jackson developed a close opportunity for Independence shortly after by making a coordinated run up the field. Jackson was unable to keep tight control on the ball and Hammerheads goalkeeper Andre Rawls made the run in for the save.
Qudus Lawal looked to add a point on the board for the Hammerheads in the 57th minute after beating Bilal Duckett on Charlotte’s backline. Berner anticipated the play and came off his line to grab the ball, but Lawal got ahead with another touch and was unlucky with his shot after not finding an appropriate angle on goal.
The lone goal of the night came in the 73rd minute following a diving header by Duckett from a corner kick by Jorge Herrera. Ryan Finley was close to adding an insurance goal for Charlotte late in the second half after challenging Troy Cole for a loose ball on the Hammerheads backline. The ball bounced over both players and Rawls approached for the save in the air, but was just out of reach and the ball fell behind him for Finley to go around and take a shot, hitting the outside of the net on an open frame.
The Hammerheads had a chance to equalize in the final minutes of the game after being given three back-to-back corner kicks, but no one could gain full control to earn the draw.