BETHLEHEM, Pa. – For the first time in club history, Bethlehem Steel FC owns a winning streak. Josh Heard and Derrick Jones each contributed first-half goals and halftime sub Gabe Gissie scored in the second half as the Steel earned a 3-0 victory against Wilmington Hammerheads FC on Thursday in an Eastern Conference matinee at Goodman Stadium. The three goals also represent a season-high mark for Bethlehem. Fresh off a 2-0 win against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Sunday, Bethlehem picked up where it left off as Heard and Jones tallied in the 28th and 42nd minutes, respectively, to provide the Steel with a two-goal cushion heading into halftime. The 19-year-old Gissie notched his first tally of the season in the second half. Bethlehem moved to 2-0-0 on an important six-game home stand that runs through Aug. 7. With the win, the Steel improved to 6-6-6 (24 points) overall and 4-2-2 at home. Wilmington falls to 6-6-5 (23 points) overall and 3-4-2 on the road. This was the second and final regular-season matchup between the two sides as the Steel move to 1-0-1 against the Hammerheads, following up a 1-1 draw on June 17 at Legion Stadium.
28' – BST – Josh Heard
42' – BST – Derrick Jones (Ryan Richter)
54' – BST – Gabe Gisse (Cory Burke)
Three Things That Mattered:
1. Bethlehem's productive first half generated two scores in the span of less than 15 minutes. Josh Heard orchestrated an impressive individual effort in the 28th minute, working the ball up the left side, splitting Wilmington's Mael Corboz and Ashani Fairclough to get the ball to his right and from 16 yards out fired it home for a 1-0 lead. Then in the 42nd minute, Ryan Richter sent the ball over the Hammerheads' defense to Derrick Jones who gained a couple steps on Wilmington's back line. He was one-on-one with Wilmington goalkeeper Eric Ati, who slipped briefly in anticipation of the shot. Jones slotted his shot past Ati into the right of the frame for a two-goal advantage and his third goal of the season.
2. Bethlehem earned its seventh clean sheet of the season and second in a row. Steel goalkeeper John McCarthy maintained the shutout, never really needing to make a difficult save as his front line limited Wilmington's chances significantly throughout the match. The Steel did, however, concede two shots off of the right post – one on the Hammerheads' quick restart on a second-half set piece and then in the closing minutes on a corner kick opportunity – but the Hammerheads could never cash in. Wilmington's defense, on the flip side, has been prone to allowing some goals over the past month and a half. For the fourth time in their past seven matches, the Hammerheads have allowed two or more goals in a game. In Wilmington's first 10 matches of the season, the club had allowed two goals in a match only once.
3. If anyone else deserved a goal Thursday, it probably was Bethlehem's James Chambers who had an effective opening half. Off of a set piece sequence, Ryan Richter set up Chambers above the box and Chambers' right-footed strike ricocheted off of the right post in the 32nd minute. Then three minutes later, Chambers again from outside the box took a crack at goal, but Wilmington's Fairclough headed the ball over the crossbar to concede a Steel corner kick.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Derrick Jones, Bethlehem Steel FC - Jones led Bethlehem with four shots, including a beautiful strike into the upper right corner of the frame to give the host side a two-goal cushion.
Bethlehem Steel FC vs. Harrisburg City Islanders – July 21, 4 p.m. ET, Goodman Stadium