The Harrisburg City Islanders kept their playoff hopes alive with a 1-0 shutout of Ottawa Fury FC Wednesday night at FNB Field.
Harrisburg looked to be hampered in this game when Cardel Benbow was sent off with a straight red card in the 40th minute and was forced to finish the match with only 10-men.
The City Islanders got a spark from the man who has been the MVP of this team so far this season. Ropapa Mensah lifted his team to a victory with a 46th-minute goal when he chipped a shot over the right shoulder of the Fury goalie.
Harrisburg’s defense held on in the end and Sean Lewis made key saves in the net to give Harrisburg a much-needed three points to keep pace in the standings.
“The guys in front of me were amazing,” said Lewis. “Going down a man in the first half is never easy but we defended like wolves today and it’s great to see.”
Saint Louis FC comes to town on Saturday and is directly ahead of the Islanders in the standings. A win would push the Islanders even closer to a playoff berth. Kickoff against Saint Louis is at 7 p.m.
Harrisburg came out and controlled the pace of play to start the game. The combination of Benbow, Wilson, and Ribeiro was working early but they couldn’t find the final pass to break through for the opening goal.
Ottawa kept up some pressure of their own to keep the Islanders defense and Sean Lewis on their toes. Ottawa’s long passes weren’t fooling the Islanders’ defense as they were stymied at every turn.
The only notable action in the first half was a straight red card shown to Benbow for a high and careless challenge on an Ottawa midfielder. Harrisburg would play the rest of the match a man down.
Harrisburg and Ottawa went into the half knotted up in a scoreless draw.
The scoreless tie wouldn’t last long. Harrisburg came out with purpose and less than a minute into the half the Islanders, down a man, had the lead.
Jonny Mendoza took a heavy pass and moved it onto Ropapa who took the ball in stride. Mensah was impeded for a moment before breaking free and chipping the ball over Irving and into the net.
Harrisburg would pack in their defense to try to keep the three points and keep their season alive. Despite a relentless attack by Ottawa, Harrisburg continued to hold onto the one-goal lead until late in the match.
Lewis wasn’t challenged much but when he was he came up with key saves to keep the Islanders in the push for the playoffs.
The City Islanders held on to the lead and grabbed a vital three points in the match. They are now at 34 points with two matches remaining and there’s is still a chance they can sneak into the playoffs late in the season.
The Islanders will stay at home for one more match in 2017 when they take on Saint Louis FC 7 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 30. This is the Islanders annual Fan Appreciation Night! Come out to grab specials at the merch table and get an exclusive giveaway from Arlington Orthopedics.
Harrisburg will go on the road for their final match of the regular season on Saturday, Oct. 7 to take on one of their rivals in the Charleston Battery. Be sure to keep an eye out on social media to see where you can watch the game.