The Harrisburg City Islanders stretched their undefeated streak to three games with a 1-1 draw against the Charlotte Independence on Tuesday night at FNB Field.
Harrisburg grabbed the lead early in the match from Ropapa Mensah’s second goal in as many games off a floating, direct pass from John Grosh who had just been substituted on.
Charlotte struck back early in the second half with a strike from their leading scorer Jorge Herrera to grab the equalizer in the 51st minute.
Both teams had chances to grab the game-winner but the Islanders Brandon Miller and Charlotte’s Cody Mizell were up to the task. The draw puts Harrisburg firmly in the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference and just one point ahead of Orlando City B.
“It was a good performance,” said goalkeeper Brandon Miller. “We were able to get one point at home against a very good team. I’m happy we were able to hold them to the one goal but I thought we played pretty well and they stuck one in there in the end.”
Harrisburg is back on the road on Saturday, July 22 at 7 p.m. to take on FC Cincinnati in Nippert Stadium. The City Islanders return home Tuesday, August 8th to take on the Rochester Rhinos in the second and final leg of the Capelli Sport Hero Cup.
Both teams came out in the first few minutes looking to make an early impact on the match. Charlotte controlled play to start the half with several chances on net, but Miller and the Islander defense were up to the task.
The City Islanders started to push back and challenge the Charlotte backline with a series of long balls that were just missing their mark. Harrisburg’s best scoring chances early in the match came off of a series of corner kicks. Mensah almost found the back of the net but Mizell was able to get his fingertips to the header and direct it just over the bar.
Harrisburg’s best scoring chances early in the match came off of a series of corner kicks. Mensah almost found the back of the net but Mizell was able to get his fingertips to the header and direct it just over the bar.
Harrisburg, who has been dealing with injuries throughout the season, was forced to make two early subs for both Abass Mohammed and Mo Dabo before the end of the first half.
As the teams looked to be taking a scoreless draw into the locker room, Harrisburg started to mount an attack. It started with a passage of play that got John Grosh free just out side of the box. Grosh looked up to see a streaking Mensah and chipped it right where he could direct it right into the net.
Mensah’s second goal in as many games gave Harrisburg a late surge and momentum with a 1-0 going into the half.
Charlotte came out flying to start the second half and was awarded for their offensive pressure almost immediately.
After a few minutes of relentless pressure from the high scoring Independence, they finally found their equalizer when Jorge Herrera continued his hot-streak with his sixth goal in four games.
Harrisburg failed to clear the ball out of harm’s way and Herrera was able to clean up a shot that fell right at his feet to knot the game up at one.
One of the big challenges for the City Islanders coming into the match on Tuesday was fatigue. Harrisburg played four games in 11 days with a lot of the same guys having to step up.
“Give the guys that went out there credit, because they battled, they fought,” said head coach Bill Becher. “You could see we tired in the second half and they are a good team and unfortunately we gave up a goal.”
Both teams continued their pressure but Charlotte controlled play for a majority of the second half. Harrisburg’s best chance to grab the lead came off a Paul Wilson shot from just outside of the box that sailed wide of the target.
After a short weather delay in the 80th minute, the two teams got back on the pitch to see if either team could find the quality to grab three points.
Rasheed Olabiyi almost put the Islanders in the lead in the 88th minute but his shot from just yards away was denied by a desperate Mizell.
Both Harrisburg’s and Charlotte’s winning streaks were halted with the sound of the final whistle. Harrisburg is still undefeated in five of six games and is currently riding a four-game unbeaten streak at home.