|We didn't need to give Bethlehem 99 problems, one was enough. Jack McInerney with the only goal.|
By: James Cormack
Indy Eleven kicked off their third in a series of four away matches at an unusual start time of 11.00am at Goodman Field in Bethlehem. After losing to Charleston Battery and Tampa Bay Rowdies the Indy side needs to find points and find them soon. The two sides have met once already this season at Lucas Oil Stadium when the visitors left with all three points after defeating Indy by two goals to one.
There were three changes to the starting XI that lost 3-1 in St. Petersburg at the weekend, one forced change was Brad Ring who received a retroactive suspension from the previous match. Tyler Pasher continued at left back and Ayoze not in the squad this time around. Nico Matern dropped from starting lineup while Soony Saad, Seth Moses, and Zach Steinberger returned to the starting lineup.
Only five of the Bethlehem players that started against Indy Eleven in the initial encounter in May will begin this game. One of them was Santi Moar who was pivotal in Steel's attack along with McGuire, Mahoney, Najem, and Ngalina.
A welcome sight to the listed roster for the match was Reiner Ferreira added to the bench after missing the bulk of the season so far, missing since picking up an injury in the first home match of the season against FC Cincinnati on April 1st. He would see game time in the match sooner than we would have liked.
Starting XI: Williams, Venegas, Ouimette, Mitchell, Pasher, Moses, Watson, Guerra, Steinberger, Saad, Starikov. Bench: Lundgaard, Ferreira, Rusin, Matern, Amankona, Speas, McInerney
|Action from the home tie in Indy where Bethlehem stole the points in a 2-1 victory.|
The first half was more of an exhibition of passing than anything else, very few shots on goal from either side. Indy threatened more, Seth Moses pressuring Maguire early in the first ten and shortly after a good interchange on the right between Venegas and Starikov saw the latter drop a nice pass back in front of goal but Venegas could not get in fast enough to let off a shot.
Starikov and Venegas starting to look comfortable with each other and 17 minutes in, interchanges between the two drew a corner but Indy Eleven could make nothing of it. Around the 20 minute mark, Bethlehem got their first real shot on goal from 22yrd out centrally but was easily smothered by Owain Fôn Williams.
The pitch was heavy and wet after a lot of rain locally, the surface was slick and players on both sides were losing their footing. Indy Eleven did well to defuse the attacking danger of Santi Moar, most of Steel's best opportunities of the counter were coming on the opposite side of the field where the ground was wetter.
Bethlehem's Ferris was causing most of the trouble on Indy's right. Two thirds into the first half after an Indy free kick on our left Ferris again showed he had the measure of our back line and was unlucky not to get a shot off. Bethlehem caught us with pace again on the opposite side with Mbaizo but his cut back pass into the box was luckily not met by a teammate.
Venegas and Starikov linked up again in the 35th, Venegas took it to the line and cut back in for the onrushing Starikov but his shot went high. A minute later Seth Moses managed to beat the back line and attempted a chip shot over Maguire but the home side keeper saved the ball with his face as it was heading goalwards.
An unfortunate site as Tyler Pasher leaves the field after 38 minutes and is replaced by Reiner Ferreira who has not taken the field for Indy for over three months, Ouimette slides out left to allow Mitchell and Ferreira to pair up at centre back. Reiner promptly picked up his third yellow card in only his third appearance of 2018.
Ferreira got himself involved again on 45' conceding a free kick on the left corner of the 18-yard box which worrying got delayed after Ouimette fell to the ground clutching his leg. The free kick came to nothing and 0-0 was the score heading into the break.
|Fans waited a long time to see Tyler Pasher return, sadly he exited the match before halftime.|
Indy came out fast in the second half with a minute played Steinberger linked up with Watson who fed in Soony Saad in front of goal but his curling shot went just wide of the upper 90. Steinberger also missed a chance in the 53rd minute after a corner clearance fell to his feet but his long-range effort went wide left.
It's cliche to say the game had 0-0 written all over on evidence of the first half, with occasional flurries of activity in the second half it settled down to looking just like that again. Both sides finding chances but unable to apply the concentration in the final third. Indy's next best chance would fall to Saad again, approaching 70 minutes into the game a buildup that started with Mitchell on the edge of our 18 ended up with Saad in front of a near open goal but was not able to get his shot on target.
As the game wore on Bethlehem almost managed to level it up in the 84th minute with a free kick about 19 yards out from the Indy goal after Nanco drew the foul, but Chambers low driven shot to the right of the wall was well smothered by Owain Fôn Williams.
Jack McInerney came into the game for Soony Saad previous to this and it was he who would be the late hero for Indy. The match was not exciting by any means and neither was it an outstanding performance by Indy Eleven, but it is fair to say if one side was going to open the scoring it likely would have been the visitors.
Zach Steinberger stepped up to take his first corner from what can only be described as a swamp in the left corner of the field and this was probably the best delivery of the game. Sent in towards the penalty spot the ball curled in and found the head of Jack McInerney who directed his header away from Maguire and into the right side of the net. It was enough of a hammer blow for Bethlehem to seal the win as they appeared deflated for the closing minutes.
Indy Eleven did enough with possession to round out the six minutes of added time and take the three points back to Indianapolis. After two straight defeats on the road, these three points are extremely valuable. To head to Louisville with none or only one, other matches in between could potentially put Indy out of the playoff positions or perilously close. Instead, they move to 5th in the table with 31pts.
It was a difficult game, Indy is still having issues with some forced rotations and lineup changes but now have over a week to rest and recover before facing Lousiville City FC in Kentucky for the first time in four years on August 5th, following that match Indy Eleven will not play again until they face North Carolina on August 15th at home.
There won't be many breaks for Indy after that, and it's important as they near the final third of the regular season to up their game and start winning points on a regular basis, inconsistency will put them in a position of relying on the fate of others, to do that they will have to start finding the back of the net on a more regular basis. Indy has averaged only a goal per game for their last six matches.
FT: Bethlehem Steel FC 0 Indy Eleven 1
We need a good travelling support for our next match, if you are interested in joining the supporters buses for Lousiville you can get ticket and bus INFORMATION HERE. Also, don't forget to pick up tickets for Indy Eleven's next home match against North Carolina FC on August 15th at BYBTIX.COM