Photo: Bethlehem Steel FC / USL
OTTAWA - With only nine matches remaining in the regular season calendar, Ottawa Fury FC hit the road down to Bethlehem, PA, to face the Steel on Wednesday evening. Ottawa would leave Pennsylvania without the points they were looking for, ultimately dropping a 2-0 result at the hands of their opponent.
Still experimenting with his formation and lineup, Head Coach Nikola Popovic decided to field a group of seven regulars and inject a few different skill sets in to play his traditional 4-3-3, which quickly morphed to a 3-5-2 as the game got underway. Montreal Impact loanee Clément Bayiha earned his first start, while David Edgar and Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé were trusted with their second consecutive start each.
Fury FC threatened from the get-go, orchestrating a few runs on goal and a series of corner kicks that were, unfortunately, all cleared by the Steel. In an abrupt turn of events, Bethlehem surprised Ottawa on the counter-attack to take an early lead in the 16th minute on a chip shot lobed over Crépeau’s extended hands.
Bethlehem’s Santi Moar would add a second to his name in the 31st minute after an unlucky handball in the Ottawa box granted the Steel a penalty kick, on which the Spaniard converted. Fury FC would continue to push forward and create some half chances in the attacking third but were unable to convert. Teams headed into the half with the home team ahead 2-0.
Skies opened up as the second half got underway, heavy rain adding to Ottawa’s challenge as they tried to make up ground and tie it up with the Steel. Nonetheless, Fury FC continued their battle with the same intensity, showing great promise on the five corner kicks they earned in the second frame (eight in total).
In the 68th minute, Fury FC got one of their best chances of the match on a free kick on frame by Portilla that was punched out, last resort, by McCarthy. The following corner kick was also secured by the keeper and Ottawa wouldn’t find the back of the net on the occasion.
Fury FC fans’ hearts were crushed in the dying minutes of the match when a nice cross from Haworth was pushed towards goal by a scrambling Meilleur-Giguère. It looked like the ball had crossed the goal line, only to be declared a non-goal by the line judge, to the dismay of many on the Ottawa side, including Captain Haworth who was shown a yellow card for his arguing.
A relentless fight until the final whistle would not change the score, Fury FC conceding the final 2-0 win to Bethlehem.
Ottawa will look to turn that bad fortune around quickly as they face Penn FC at home on Saturday night in the club’s annual Pride Game. Still in a playoff position and battling to make it up the ranks, standing only five points out of a home playoff spot, Fury FC will turn to their fans to show their support in one of the three home matches left this season at TD Place.
Head Coach Nikola Popovic
On the 2-0 loss to Bethlehem… ”I think it was a very even match, two small details dictated the first half. Two small details that Bethlehem was able to do well and score two goals. After that, it was a very even game with chances on both sides. I think if it was possible to score a goal, I think we would have been able to come back. Wasn’t possible, the ball almost crossed the line in a situation and we weren’t able to score however I’m proud of my players because they fought until the end.”
On getting only two shots on target… ”The statistics only follow what goes inside the target but I think what is important is to shoot at the goal. We shot 11 times and to only have two chances to score, we wanted to have the ball but it wasn’t possible in the first half. We were very, very even but as I said two, small details Bethlehem were able to get goals. We needed a small detail on our part to be able to score and change the game, it wasn’t possible but this is football.”
Message to the team as you battle around the playoff line… ”I think when you behave like this, when your attitude is to the final whistle like we were today then I think we have to have hope that we can achieve the playoffs. We knew since the beginning of the season that it was going to be very, very tight. There are six, seven and if you push tight even eight teams that are looking for four places so it’s going to be a tough run until the last week.”
Full stats report on USL Match Centre or download the Opta Stats Report (full)
Watch Match Highlights
Download Match Photos (Credit: Bethlehem Steel / USL)
Ottawa Fury FC (4-3-3): Crépeau; Obasi, Meilleur-Giguère, Edgar, Bayiha (46’ Edward); Gagnon-Laparé, Portilla, Mannella (46’ Taylor); Oliveira (61’ Reid), Dos Santos, Haworth ©
Bethlehem Steel FC (4-2-3-1): McCarthy; Real, Yaro, Mahoney, Mbaizon; Chambers ©, Skundrich; Epps, Moar (89’ Aubrey), Aaronson (83’ Nanco); Apodaca (73’ Moumbagna)
16’ BST – Moar (Epps)
32’ BST – Moar (PK)
31’ OTT – Meilleur-Giguère
41’ BST – Skundrich
49’ OTT – Taylor
58’ OTT – Portilla
74’ BST – Moar
84’ BST – Yaro
88’ OTT – Haworth
90+2’ BST – Aubrey
Next Match: Saturday, August 25 v Penn FC – 7:00 p.m. – TD Place (Pride Game)