Back on the pitch just 72 hours after a heartbreaking setback in Richmond, Wilmington Hammerheads FC took on one of the hottest clubs within the United Soccer League (USL) as Charlotte Independence traveled to the Port City for a rare mid-week match.
Wilmington grabbed an early lead after Bruno Perone buried a penalty kick inside the lower left frame in the 15th minute, but Charlotte found an equalizer just before the halftime in a 1-1 draw at Legion Stadium.
“It’s another draw, which isn’t the result we were looking for,” said Wilmington Hammerheads FC Coach Mark Briggs. “Again, it’s the same old story. We play well, we create chances, but we don’t put the ball in the back of the net.”
Perone converted on the attempt for his team leading third goal of the season after he was brought down in the penalty area. On a four-game winning streak, Charlotte hit back in the 43rd minute when Brian Brown scored from the right side of the box just before break to earn his side one point.
One of the keys to the Independence’s success in their past two wins was getting out to a quick start, and putting their opponent on its heels. On Tuesday, the Hammerheads did well to match the energy, which helped them hold momentum until the game-tying goal.
As the pressure from the Independence built in the first half, it almost made Brown’s equalizer inevitable. Starting with a sequence of corner kicks, the Hammerheads certainly defended well around the half-hour mark, but had trouble on clearance balls through the full 90 minutes of play.
Both clubs had chances to find a winner in the second half, with late opportunities for new Wilmington signee Casey Townsend and Logan Miller offering a header on net to give the hosts a chance to steal all three points with a result.
“We missed a couple of good opportunities,” said Briggs. “We’ll take the positives from it, though. They reacted to what I said to them at halftime and they came out in the second half with a bit more desire and a bit more fight, which is what we were looking for. So we’ll take the positives and that’s a good thing for us. But, we didn’t get the three points we were looking for, so it’s disappointing.”
Overall, the result was fair as Charlotte moved within one point of first-place Louisville City FC heading into a big game this Saturday on the road against Rochester. At 5-2-1, the Independence is in the middle of a stretch of six matches this month, including three contests within one week.
Wilmington Hammerheads FC moved to 2-3-3 overall, with nine points in the standings. Wilmington will have a little time to get back to full health with starters Liam Miller and Ashani Fairclough missing Tuesday’s contest after the quick turnaround from the match at Richmond.
The Hammerheads will host a U.S. Open Cup match on Wednesday, May 18, before returning to USL competition against Charleston Battery at Legion Stadium on May 21.