The Charlotte Independence won their first road game of the season despite playing almost an hour down to 10 men, eliminating Bethlehem Steel FC from playoff contention in Sunday’s USL Championship action.
CHESTER, Pa. – Hugh Roberts’ second-half goal earned the 10-man Independence victory against Steel FC at Talen Energy Stadium for their first road win of the season. Charlotte had the first chance in the fifth minute when Chad Poarch broke down the right and was denied from a tight angle by Steel FC goalkeeper Matthew Freese, but a minute later from a corner on the left the Independence took the lead as Aaron Maund headed home Enzo Martinez’s delivery to the top of the six-yard area. Steel FC got the chance to reply from the penalty spot after Faris was brought down in the area, and the Cameroonian’s shot to the right corner just got past Charlotte goalkeeper Brandon Miller’s diving effort to save. Charlotte was reduced to 10 men in the 31st minute when Alex Martinez was sent off after an altercation with Bethlehem’s James Chambers, and the visitors had to track back quickly to deny a counterattack led by Michee Ngalina that saw Faris’ shot blocked wide seven minutes before halftime. Bethlehem threatened to take the lead again in first-half stoppage time as Miller made a good save to keep out Axel Picazo, while Chavany Willis sent a header just wide early in the second half. The Independence took the lead in the 68th minute, however, as Roberts headed home off a free kick by Abdoulie Mansally to score against his former club. Roberts almost scored in identical fashion 10 minutes later, only to send his header wide of the right post, and Mansally clipped the top of the crossbar in the 83rd minute with a free kick from 20 yards out before Niki Jackson was well denied by Freese after a sweeping counterattack by the visitors. Bethlehem was unable to mount a late reply, though, and saw its hopes of a third consecutive trip to the postseason mathematically come to an end as Charlotte held on for victory.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Abdoulie Mansally, Charlotte Independence – Mansally provided the assist on Hugh Roberts’ game-winning goal, almost added a tally of his own off a free kick and recorded four chances created and nine recoveries.