CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Having drawn three previous times and lost on the other occasion over the past season and a half against the Charlotte Independence, Wilmington Hammerheads FC finally broke that trend Saturday. Austin Martz’s 65th-minute goal proved to be the winner as Wilmington went on the road for a 2-1 victory – its first against Charlotte – at the Ramblewood Soccer Complex. Casey Townsend tallied the Hammerheads’ other goal in the opening half. For Charlotte, first-half sub Lewis Hilton scored his team’s lone goal. The two sides drew 1-1 on May 10 at Wilmington’s Legion Stadium and they will face each other one more time on Aug. 13 at the Ramblewood Soccer Complex. With the win, Wilmington improves to 6-5-5 (23 points) overall and 3-3-2 on the road. Charlotte falls to 7-5-4 (25 points) overall and 5-3-1 at home as the club saw an end to its three-game unbeaten streak (2-0-1).
43’ – WIL – Casey Townsend (Qudus Lawal)
45’+ – CLT – Lewis Hilton (Brian Brown)
65 – WIL – Austin Martz (Justin Moose)
Three Things That Mattered:
1. The Hammerheads did not generate as many scoring chances as the Independence did, but they won the battle on the conversion side. The winner came in the 65th minute on the counter attack as Justin Moose set up Austin Martz with a long pass up-field. Martz out-hustled the Charlotte defense and shot left-footed across his body and inside the right post for a 2-1 advantage. Martz scored his second goal of the season and Moose provided his first assist.
2. Lewis Hilton’s night started a bit earlier than expected. In the 26th minute he was brought in to replace an injured Yann Ekra. His presence was a big boost just before halftime as he scored in the opening minute of first-half stoppage time to tie the score at 1-1. Brian Brown, who was clearly Charlotte’s best offensive weapon throughout the opening half with a couple strong attempts at goal, this time did the setup work in setting off the ball for Hilton on this sequence. Hilton struck left-footed and drove his shot past Hammerheads goalkeeper Eric Ati and inside the far right post to tie the score at 1-1. Hilton tallied his second goal of the season and Brown garnered his team-leading third assist.
3. Wilmington’s only shot on frame in the opening 45 minutes resulted in the game’s first goal. From the midfield, Qudus Lawal provided a strong through ball to connect with Casey Townsend down the right side and shot right-footed, driving the ball past Independence goalkeeper John Berner and inside the left post for a 1-0 lead in the 43rd minute. It was Townsend’s second tally of the season.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Eric Ati, Wilmington Hammerheads FC – Ati had a number of clutch saves throughout the match as Charlotte easily could have had at least three or four goals, denying the likes of Caleb Calvert and Brian Brown with some highlight reel stops.
Charlotte Independence vs. New York Red Bulls II – July 16, 7 p.m. ET, Ramblewood Soccer Complex
Wilmington Hammerheads FC at Bethlehem Steel FC – July 14, 12 p.m. ET, Goodman Stadium