Although the Harrisburg City Islanders were without their leading scorer they were able to find their offense early and lean on their strong defense late to take a 2-0 win on Tuesday night against the New York Red Bulls II.
Without Ribeiro in the lineup, the Islanders relied on a starting lineup that saw Paul Wilson and Cardel Benbow getting their first start together in a few matches.
Both Jamaicans created space and helped set up the Jamie Thomas for the first goal of the match just 20 minutes in. Ropapa Mensah collected a pass from Benbow and put two hard shots on goal before Thomas collected the ball and drove it into the open net.
Wilson would give the Islanders an insurance goal 20 minutes later to seal the victory and the season series win over the New York Red Bulls II
“We were good tonight, but I felt like we could be better,” said head coach Bill Becher. “We got a lot more of the attack tonight and scored some good goals to get the win.”
With the win, Harrisburg doesn’t move up in the standings but does move just two points outside of playoff contention with 19 points. Another win for the Islanders would put them into the top half of the table for the first time since the beginning of the season.
Harrisburg returns to FNB Field on Saturday, July 15 at 7 p.m. to take on the Richmond Kickers, who currently occupy the last spot in the Eastern Conference with only 12 points. Come out to the Island for Hometown Heroes Night featuring the Islanders first-ever flyover and post-match fireworks presented by Dauphin County.
The match against the Kickers will also be televised live on ABC27 with a play-by-play by Gregg Mace.
Harrisburg started off the game strong with the first shot of the match less than one minute into the game. Diaz made the save but it was a sign of things to come later in the half.
Thomas grabbed his first goal of the season to put the Islanders ahead in the 20th minute. The goal was set up by a beautiful seething run by Cardel Benbow, who slid the ball over to Mensah for a few shots on goal before Thomas collected the rebound and hammered it home.
“Cardel went down the line and crossed it to Ropapa who took a couple of shots and then I saw it come to me,” said Thomas. “It was a great feeling to see the open net.”
The Islanders kept up the pressure up on the Red Bulls net with several shots but the three forwards of Wilson, Benbow, and Mensah. All three were active in the offensive zone for the majority of the first half.
Wilson alone had three separate chances to give the Islanders a two-goal lead late in the first half before cashing in for the second goal of the match.
Wilson used his speed and skill to possess the ball down the center of the field long enough to make a move to find the open net for his third goal of the season. The goal vaulted Wilson to the Islanders top goal-scorer for the Islanders this season.
Harrisburg came out in the second half determined to hold on to the two-goal lead. Brandon Miller had to make a few highlight reel saves to keep the Red Bulls off the board but the decision was never in doubt for the City Islanders.
Harrisburg had a few chances to add to their lead late in the game but Diaz was up to the task just like Miller.
This is the third win in the last four matches for the Islanders and still only have one loss in play at FNB Field. With the recent run of wins, Harrisburg has jumped right back into a competitive race for a spot in the USL Playoffs.