Louisville City FC (12-4-5) defeated Bethlehem Steel FC (10-10-3) 2-1 Sunday afternoon at Goodman Stadium on the campus of Lehigh University.
A first half brace by Luke Spencer and a goal by Cameron Lancaster gave City all three points. With the win and Charlotte’s draw with Orlando City B, City is now three points shy of first place, with three games in hand of the Independence.
Today’s game marked the return of Maurice Edu. The US International started his first game after a horrific leg injury kept him off the field since September of last year.
The game started off frantic, with both teams getting chances to score.
Luke Spencer, who is enjoying a good run of form, scored his third goal in as many games in the 18th minute. City won a free kick at right side midfield. 16-year-old Bethlehem goalkeeper Tomas Romero got it all wrong when he came out to catch Oscar Jimenez’s cross. Spencer rose up to head the ball into the open net for his team-leading seventh goal of the season.
Jimenez assisted Spencer’s second goal in the 26th minute, this time from the left side of midfield. The Washington native found Spencer running unmarked into the box. His initial header was saved by Romero but was unable to hold on as Spencer poked in the rebound.
Bethlehem should have made it 2-1 in the 30th minute. The Steel picked up their play and began pressuring Louisville in their half. The press won the Steel a throw in, and Cory Burke went past Sean Reynolds and centered the ball to James Chambers, who fired, but was deflected by Guy Abend for a corner kick.
Bethlehem did get their goal in the 41st minute. Chambers drew a foul and a free kick in a dangerous position. Richie Marquez flicked home Aaron Jones’ cross to the left post to make it a one-goal game.
Bethlehem had two brilliant chances to score, but Chambers squandered one, and Louisville City goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh came up big to save Santi Moar’s shot in stoppage time.
Louisville City started the game strong and looked dominant. But once they took the 2-0 lead, the momentum completely swung the other way. Nanco and Chambers were behind the Steel’s attack and should have been up 3-2 at halftime.
Bethlehem continued to give Louisville problems in the second half in their search of the equalizer. A great opportunity went to Burke in the 70th minute. Derrick Jones served up the Jamaican with a cross, but the header went straight at Ranjitsingh.
Oscar Jimenez was again involved with a Louisville City goal in the 84th minute. Cameron Lancaster turned and headed home Jimenez’s cross to regain the two-goal advantage.
Drama ensued in stoppage time. A foul set off pushing and shoving before Seku Conneh hit the ground holding his face. The referee, as a result, showed Kyle Smith a red card. Yosef Samuel was given a yellow for starting the scuffle.
City deterred Bethlehem’s last ditch efforts to take home three points.
Louisville City is on a quick turnaround. They return to Slugger Field in a midweek contest against the Harrisburg City Islanders. The Islanders upset City 1-0 at home on June 24. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.