FC Cincinnati was able to extend their unbeaten streak to 11 games with a 1-0 win against the Bethlehem Steel, ending the first half of the season with 31 points. The goal was scored by Jimmy McLaughlin who tapped in a flick from Omar Cummings off a corner in the 70th minute.
Cincinnati was the better team for most of the match and had the majority of the possession. They were able to put eight of their 14 shots on target. Bethlehem was forced to sit back most of the game and were able to cut out the space that Cincinnati was able to work with. They also played a very physical game picking up 14 fouls and three yellow cards.
Mitch Hildebrandt was able to record his second straight clean sheet and his fourth of the season. Only having to make two saves on ten shots, about half which were outside the box and posed little threat to score. He credited his teammates by saying, “Our defending starts as a whole team…its not just the back line, it’s not just me. It’s a team effort.”
It was the ninth straight match with more than 10,000 for Cincinnati with 17,310. This is the 4th highest attended game this season for Cincinnati.
Cincinnati dominated the first 15 minutes of the game forcing Bethlehem to sit back. There were a few good chances off set pieces from a corner that Sean Okoli just missed getting his head on and free kicks in dangerous positions, one of which Harrison Delbridge just missed getting his head on.
During the middle of the first half Cincinnati and Bethlehem both had a few chances that came to nothing. Many shots from outside the box for both teams that posed very little threat to either keeper. The best chance of the half came from Andrew Wiedeman who collected the ball at the top of the box and cut inside to the left and fired a shot that was knocked away by the Bethlehem keeper Samir Badr.
At the end of the first half there were two incidents that very well could have been penalties with Okoli being knocked down in the top of the box and seconds later McLaughlin was taken down in the box as well.
The first 20 minutes of the second half had plenty of chances for both teams. Cincinnati had two good chances when Hildebrandt started a counter attacks from his own box. One a kick to Okoli that ended up leading to nothing and another where he threw the ball to McLaughlin. The best chance for Bethlehem was a breakaway for Corey Burke after Fred Carrerio’s challenge on Delbridge.
Cincinnati’s McLaughlin scored the first goal in the 70th minute on a tap in that Cummings flicked toward the goal off a corner from Corben Bone. Commenting on the goal Mclaughlin said, “I just redirected it a little bit and put it in the goal. I guess unfortunately for Omar (Cummings) I might have stolen his goal.”
After the goal Bethlehem was able to put some pressure on Cincinnati but none of their chances were fruitful. Kenny Walker almost doubled Cincinnati’s lead in the 80th with a shot from the top of the box on a corner. The shot was deflected and hit off the center stanchion of the goal. On the ensuing corner Cincinnati’s Paul Nicholson shot a spinning volley that was saved by Badr.
In the final minutes Bethlehem had a few chances but none of them were able to equalize. There was a close call for Cincinnati in the final minute when shot just missed far post by Bethlehem.