Wilmington Hammerheads FC used a goal in the 65th minute by Austin Martz to grab a 2-1 victory at Charlotte Independence on Saturday night.
The result was Wilmington’s first win against Charlotte in four tries as the Hammerheads improved to 6-5-5 overall and 3-3-2 on the road. With 23 points in the United Soccer League Eastern Conference, Wilmington remains among playoff contenders just past the midway point of the season.
Casey Townsend tallied for the second consecutive match to put the Hammerheads on the board just before the halftime break, but first-half sub Lewis Hilton found the equalizer in stoppage time off an assist from Brian Brown to keep things level after 45 minutes of action.
Hilton’s night started a bit earlier than expected after being brought on to replace an injured Yann Ekra. Brown, who was clearly Charlotte’s best offensive weapon throughout the opening half with a couple strong attempts at goal, did the set-up 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 one-all.
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 Townsend down the right side for a finish just inside the left post.
Making his second start at keeper in as many games, 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.
The winner came in the 65th minute on the counter attack as Justin Moose set up Martz with a long pass up-field. Martz out-hustled the Charlotte defense and shot left-footed across his body for a 2-1 advantage. Martz scored his second goal of the season and Moose provided his first assist.
Wilmington continues a stretch of three games in seven days when the Hammerheads travel to Bethlehem Steel FC on Thursday, July 14. They return home for a date with Louisville City FC at 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 17.