The Harrisburg City Islanders hope that the friendly confines of FNB Field will get them back on their winning ways when they take on in-state rival the Bethlehem Steel on Tuesday, June 20 at 7 p.m.
Harrisburg hasn’t won a league game in six tries, although they are undefeated at home this season. Harrisburg’s last win came against the Steel in a thrilling 3-2 match.
The last time these two Pennsylvania rivals met, Bethlehem was able to pick up a 3-1 win for their first victory in the series. Before that, Harrisburg had gone five straight games without a loss to the Steel including two wins at home.
In the first match, Harrisburg took an early 2-0 lead with goals from Aaron Wheeler and Paul Wilson before Bethlehem mounted a valiant comeback to knot the game up at two with less than 30 minutes left in the match.
Then, Cardel Benbow used some late game magic and scored the game-winner in stoppage time to put the Islanders ahead for good.
Since then, Harrisburg has struggled to put together a full game to pick up those crucial three points. Although they are still undefeated at home, they have played to three draws and had a lead late in two of those games.
One of the problems for the Islanders has been scoring. Paul Wilson, Cardel Benbow, and Aaron Wheeler all have been battling injuries. Both Wheeler and Wilson saw starts in the Islanders last game against Charlotte but Benbow didn’t make the trip to North Carolina.
Harrisburg used Danny Diprima as a forward along with Wheeler and Wilson to start the match, but came up empty and failed to get a shot on net.
The Islanders will need to get their midfielders more involved if they want to have more sustained possession and offensive attack. Players like Rasheed Olabiyi and Jonny Mendoza have already shown their skill in an attacking position.
Bethlehem has been on a tear of late and has gone on a four-game unbeaten streak including three wins. The Steel are led by Seku Conneh, who has seven goals on the season on 30 shots. Conneh is backed up by seven other players who have tallied goals on the season.
The combination of a familiar opponent plus being at home could prove to be the perfect recipe to get the Islanders their first victory and three points in two months. A win wouldn’t push Harrisburg up the tables much but would get them close to the top half before the halfway point of the season.
After their competition with the Steel, the Islanders will stay home for their first match against Louisville City FC on Saturday, June 24 at 7 p.m. The City Islanders are going pink with Feel Your Boobies in support of breast cancer awareness and will dawn special pink jerseys powered by Capelli Sport that will be auctioned off between June 24 and August 12.