For two teams that entered with even splits on the season, Friday’s result seemed fitting as Wilmington Hammerheads FC and Bethlehem City FC played to a 1-1 draw at Legion Stadium.
Bethlehem’s Seku Conneh grabbed a first-half goal on a miscommunication midway through the first half, but the visiting expansion side conceded a soft goal to Wilmington’s Ashani Fairclough just after the break before heavy rain and wind put a damper on a competitive match between two sides looking for a playoff berth.
Bethlehem’s opening goal appeared to develop in slow motion as Wilmington’s defense looked flat-footed in the 19th minute after dropping a contest in penalty kicks to Real Salt Lake of the Major Soccer League earlier this week in Utah. Steel FC’s Derrick Jones played a deep ball from the back toward Seku Conneh, who made a good run between a pair of Wilmington’s defenders and casually lofted the ball over John Smits to grab a 1-0 lead.
After Wilmington’s slow start, the Hammerheads were unable to cash in on a chaotic 29th-minute sequence that included a shot on net and two rebounds that hit the frame. The Hammerheads took a quick corner kick from the left and crossed the ball in toward Kyle Parker, who redirected with his right foot, but Samir Badr made a quick reaction save with his leg before Bruno Perone rushed in for a header that struck the right post.
Looking for the equalizer, the Hammerheads got off to a quick start in the second half off of a corner kick from the right as Perone rose up with a lofting header and Ashani Fairclough pounced on a loose ball to tie the score at 1-1. Fairclough has three goals on the season, which ties for second on the Hammerheads with Parker.
Both clubs earned one point in the standings and remain in the playoff picture heading into next week’s schedule at 4-4-5 overall. Wilmington Hammerheads FC hits the road in a match at New York Red Bulls II on June 26.