PITTSBURGH – Alex Dixon scored a pair of second-half goals to lead Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC to a 3-1 victory against Hartford Athletic at Highmark Stadium that moved the Hounds into first place in the Atlantic Division at the end of Saturday night’s action.
Meeting for the second time this season, both teams had to make key defensive plays early as the Hounds’ Danny Griffin made an important block to deny Hartford’s Danny Barrera after a good attack and low cross from the left by El Salvador international Walmer Martinez. The Athletic’s Arthur Rogers then made a key interception in the 10th minute to give up a corner as a good passing move by the Hounds at the top of the penalty area almost set up a shooting chance for Kenardo Forbes.
Hartford took the lead in the 26th minute, though, as Derek Dodson broke onto a through-ball by Cristian Gomez and held off a defender before shooting into the bottom-left corner of the net for his third goal of the season. The Hounds almost answered seven minutes later as a corner kick from the right by Forbes found Mekeil Williams for a header that forced a parried save by Hartford’s Jeff Caldwell, who quickly recovered to deny a chance on the rebound for Albert Dikwa and keep his side on top.
Dodson had the chance to double Pittsburgh’s lead eight minutes before halftime as Gomez once again played a ball over the top that saw the forward shrug off a defender, but this time shot straight at Hounds goalkeeper Danny Vitiello. Caldwell then came up with another good low save for the visitors as Forbes shot from range to the left corner, and an arguably better one as the Hounds turned over possession and quickly linked together to create a shot by Dikwa from 12 yards that the goalkeeper turned wide of the left post.
The Hounds hit back four minutes into the second half, however, as Williams delivered a beautiful cross from the left side to the back post that picked out Dixon for a volleyed finish and his second consecutive game with a goal. The hosts then almost grabbed the lead seven minutes later as Danny Rovira delivered another good ball from the left only for Dikwa to head over the crossbar.
The Athletic almost regained the lead with 20 minutes to go as Barrera delivered a free kick from the right that Tulu got to first only to send his header off target, while Pittsburgh’s Tommy Williamson powered a free kick from 25 yards that rattled the stanchion just outside the right post seven minutes later.
Dixon put the Hounds on top with seven minutes to go, however, with an outstanding effort that saw him receive a pass from Russell Cicerone on the right, drive forward into the penalty area and unleash a fierce shot into the top-left corner of the net. Pittsburgh then put the game to bed with two minutes to go as a cross from the left was headed high above the penalty area by a Hartford defender before Williamson won the second ball, heading across to Louis Perez for a turning finish back into the right corner of the net.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Alex Dixon, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Dixon had two goals on his two shots on the night, had another pair of key passes and made six recoveries defensively to lead the hosts to an important victory.
HFD – Derek Dodson (Christian Gomez) 26’
PIT – Alex Dixon (Mekeil Williams) 49’
PIT – Alex Dixon (Russell Cicerone) 83’
PIT – Louis Perez (Tommy Williamson) 88’