Heading into this weekend’s match against the Richmond Kickers, Wilmington Hammerheads FC looks to remain consistent on the pitch as the early push continues to stay relevant within the 14-team United Soccer League (USL) Eastern Conference Table.
Both clubs played to a scoreless draw in their first meeting at Legion Stadium on April 1, but a result in Saturday’s contest would give the Hammerheads a boost in the standings. Following a 1-1 tie at FC Cincinnati this past week, Wilmington has eight points in the division and a 2-2-2 overall mark. The Hammerheads continue to show a steady attack in the final third, while goalkeeper John Smits has given the home side steady play between the posts.
Bruno Perone notched his second goal of the year for the Hammerheads at Cincinnati as the first-year defender found the back of the net in the first half off a corner service from Mael Corboz. Corboz leads the club with three assists.
“I am happy with the overall performance so far and how the team fought for one another at Cincinnati,” said Wilmington Hammerheads FC Head Coach Mark Briggs. “[I’m] a little disappointed, but at the end of the day, a point on the road in a tough environment is a win in our books.”
After FC Cincinnati found the equalizer, Wilmington remained steadfast and had scoring chances through the second half, but were unable to find the back of the net after Qudus Lawal and Justin Moose were turned away on back-to-back opportunities in the 65th minute.
In six matches played, Smits has 21 saves and five goals allowed. He is sixth in the 29-team league with a .808 save percentage
With 10 points and a 3-2-1 record, Richmond fashions an 8-6 goals for/against average, currently in a three-way tie for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
After back-to-back losses for the first time since 2012, the Kickers rebounded well against a solid Toronto FC II side as Brian Ownby scored the only goal of the game. The chemistry between him and Sunny Jane seems to be coming together very well as Jane faces his former team for a second time this season.
Listed at No. 10 in this week’s USL Power Rankings, Richmond will want to be more decisive in front of goal after finishing with only four shots on target out of 11 total shots. Heading into Saturday’s match against Wilmington, the Kickers can go into their rematch with the Hammerheads with a lot more confidence after their third result of the season.
The second of three scheduled matches between the Kickers and Wilmington Hammerheads FC is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 7 at City Stadium in Richmond.