Wilmington Hammerheads finally grab first win in two months to keep playoff hopes alive

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WILMINGTON- Heading into Wednesday’s match against Orlando City B, it was imperative for Wilmington Hammerheads FC to earn a strong result against the eighth-place side in a battle for the final postseason slot within the United Soccer League (USL) Eastern Conference.

After an uneventful first half, Wilmington rose to the occasion during the final 45 minutes as Bruno Perone recorded a brace and Jeff Michaud added his first goal en route to a 3-0 victory at Legion Stadium. With the win, Wilmington ends a 10-game winless streak dating back to July 9. More importantly, the Hammerheads narrowed the gap with Orlando City. The Wilmington side now sits just two points out of the eighth and final playoff spot with three matches to go in the regular season.

Liam Miller, right, grab an assist in Wednesday's win. Photo courtesy- Wilmington Hammerheads FC.
Liam Miller, right, grab an assist in Wednesday’s win. Photo courtesy- Wilmington Hammerheads FC.

In the early minutes of the second half, Wilmington pieced together a nice buildup, stringing together double-digit passes and finding the game’s first goal in the 48th minute. After a cross from the left flank, Matthew Barnes-Homer collected inside the penalty area and dropped it off to Jeff Michaud, positioned at the top of the 18-yard box. Michaud snuck his shot inside the right post and passed a diving Mark Ridgers for a 1-0 lead. It was Michaud’s first goal of the season and Barnes-Homer’s second assist.

Jermie Lynch subbed into the match nearly 20 minutes later and made an immediate impact after being brought down in the penalty box to set the stage for a Wilmington triumph. Perone converted the penalty kick in the 71st minute and added a volley from Liam Miller in the 78th minute to put it away. Perone now has a team-high eight goals.

Wilmington improves to 7-11-9 (30 points) overall and 4-4-5 at home, earning its first victory since a 2-1 win at Charlotte Independence in early July. Orlando dropped to 8-11-8 (32 points) overall and now winless in six straight (0-5-1).

The Hammerheads play two of their final three games at home beginning with a date against FC Cincinnati on Sept. 11 at Legion Stadium. Kickoff is slate for 3 p.m.

48’ – WIL – Jeff Michaud (Matthew Barnes-Homer)
71’ – WIL – Bruno Perone (penalty)
78’ – WIL – Bruno Perone (Liam Miller)