07/12/2012 9:02 PM
The second place Rochester Rhinos and fourth place Wilmington Hammerheads played to a goalless draw on Thursday, July 12th in Legion Stadium. The result extends Rochester’s unbeaten streak to three matches. Rhinos goalkeeper Kristian Nicht kept his eighth clean sheet in the league this season, and he now leads the USL PRO in shut outs. The Rhinos are eight points behind top of the table Orlando City, but Rochester will have the opportunity to close the gap to five points when they visit City on Saturday night.
Wilmington had the better of play in the first ten minutes of the match, and their right midfielder Bryce Taylor was particularly effective. In the 8th minute Taylor got loose on the right flank, and put pressure on Rhinos left back Danny Earls with the dribble. Earls contained Taylor, but he was able to drop the ball to Wilmington right back Tom Parratt at the top of the box. Parratt had the time and space to take a shot, but his effort flashed wide of the Rhinos goal.
Two minutes later Wilmington center midfielder Paul Nicholson changed the point of attack with a long, driven ball and found Taylor out wide on the right flank. While the Rhinos back four rotated over, Taylor was able to attack the backside of their defensive shape with the dribble. From the end line Taylor dropped the ball to new signee Cody Arnoux, but Arnoux could not put his shot on target.
The Rhinos first chance of the match came off of a counter attack in the 14th minute. Rochester center midfielder Michael Tanke intercepted a Wilmington pass in the attacking half and immediately played striker Kendell McFayden a thru ball. McFayden was able to split Wilmington’s center backs Gareth Evans and Dylan Riley with a surging run into the box, but he wasn’t able to get his effort on target.
Wilmington’s best chance of the half happened in the 31st minute. Striker Corey Hertzog took a long throw in from the right flank. The ball sailed into a pack of players at the near post. A Rochester defender was able to win the first ball, but Riley was able to flick the second ball onto the far post. Midfielder Mark Briggs found time and space for Wilmington about fifteen yards out, but again his effort was off target and sailed over the cross bar.
Rochester responded in the 33rd minute after a foul was committed on right winger Quavas Kirk. Earls and right back Lucas Fernandez stood over the ball forty yards out from the Hammerheads goal, and they executed a routine from off the training ground. Fernandez ran over the ball and down the right touchline, and Earls feinted a service into the box and passed him the ball. Fernandez was able to run all the way down to Wilmington’s end line before he crossed the ball to the far post. Rhinos center back Tyler Bellamy was lurking, but he could not connect with a header to apply the finishing touch to the cross.
In the 37th minute Nicht made a cheeky distribution into the Rhinos midfield. From there Rochester was able to serve McFayden in behind the Wilmington back four with a first time pass. McFayden took a confident first touch, and then applied a finishing touch over Wilmington goalkeeper Alexander Horwath. McFayden’s shot hit the bottom side of the crossbar and bounced straight down before it was cleared to safety by the Hammerheads.
The last two chances of the half came in the 43rd minute. Rhinos left winger JC Banks was caught up the pitch, and Parratt and Taylor were able to combine in a numbers-up situation against Earls on the right flank. Parratt smashed a difficult service to deal with into the back post, and Arnoux was able to provide a finishing touch. However, he was denied by the post from an acute angle and Nicht pounced on the loose ball. Immediately at the other end McFayden found himself on the end of a Rhinos service into Wilmington’s box, but Horwath was able to make a reflex save to keep the Rhinos out.
Rochester came out of the half and was able to put Wilmington’s goal under some pressure in the first 15 minutes of the second half. They were rewarded with a pair of chances from McFayden. In the 49th minute Nicht punted a ball into the Wilmington half, and it took a high bounce after landing on Legion Stadium’s turf. Earls was the first player to get a head on the ball, and he put it over the top of Wilmington’s back four. McFayden ran onto Earls header, but his effort to finish was off target.
In the 51st minute Banks took a long throw-in from the right flank. His service went through the Wilmington box, and was cleared but only as far as McFayden. McFayden controlled the clearance outside Wilmington’s box and exploded into the area with a surging run. He dribbled to the end line, and then he cut the ball back on to his right foot. McFayden bent his finishing touch around a diving Horwath, but he could not bend it into the goal.
As the second half wore on the heat and humidity of the Carolina evening began to take its toll on the players on the pitch. Both teams made liberal substitutions, and the play began to become disjointed.
In the 68th minute Evans played a long ball into the box that found Hertzog running on to it. Hertzog had a fleeting moment to get a shot on target, but Fernandez and Rochester Rhinos center back Troy Roberts were quick to converge on the ball and snuff out the attack.
In the 74th minute Rhinos center midfielder Michael Tanke fouled Hertzog 25 yards out from his goal line. Substitute Chukwudi Chijindu took the free kick, but his shot deflected off of the Rhinos wall. The deflected shot trickled past the Rhinos far post and went over the end line. Earls was able to clear the enduing corner kick at the near post for Rochester.
In the 79th minute Chijindu was sent off for a foul on Rhinos center midfielder Tyler Rosenlund. The Rhinos were not able to capitalize and both teams shared the points.
The goal less draw was the first for Rochester this season.
The next Rhinos home game is Saturday, July 21st at 7PM against Pittsburgh in Sahlen’s Stadium. Tickets can be purchased by calling 585-454-KICK, by visiting rhinossoccer.com, or by visiting any Ticket Master Retail location.