Riverhounds give up late goal, earn draw vs. Rhinos
A golden opportunity to seize control of their playoff path slipped away from the Riverhounds.
Kevin Kerr scored with less than 20 minutes to play, but Joe Farrell's header in the 90th minute forced the Riverhounds to settle for a 1-1 draw Saturday night at Highmark Stadium.
With four games to play, the Riverhounds (8-9-11) continue their holding pattern in 10th place, one point out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the USL Eastern Conference. Their next two become vital, as they go on the road the next two weekends to face Bethlehem Steel and the New York Red Bulls II, the teams in ninth and seventh place, respectively.
“The boys downstairs (in the locker room) played really well against a very good team and pulled ahead. They're heartbroken down there. It's a tough one to take,” Kerr said. “Right now, we need points. It's no longer in our hands. ... But it's so tight in (the standings) that I think other teams will drop points, and the more we can pick up, the better our chances.”
The Riverhounds were on their heels after taking the lead, and in the end, the Rhinos (11-5-10) got the goal they needed to record their eighth straight game against the Riverhounds without a loss.
Farrell's tying goal came after a good individual run down the right side by Christiano François, who was the Rhinos' most dangerous playmaker all night. François got around two defenders to whip in a cross, and Farrell ran unmarked through the box from his defensive position to nod home the goal.
“It was a bit of a chess match, and there weren't many opportunities for either team,” Riverhounds coach Dave Brandt said. “(We scored) a great goal, and at that point, it would've been a super result for us. Obviously, we're disappointed to give one up in the 90th.”
Brandt's first two substitutions were made to look like a stroke of genius, as he brought striker Kay Banjo and midfielder Kenroy Howell off the bench in the 67th minute. Four minutes later, both played a part in setting up Kerr's strike.
Howell's fresh legs helped him get down the left wing with speed and, cut off at the goal line, he played a pass back to Kerr at the top of the penalty area. Kerr then played a give-and-go with Banjo to get open and score from 10 yards.
“It's Rochester, so you know you're not going to get many chances, but I was quite confident I'd get one. I got a great pass back, and I just wanted to get a clean strike on it and not hit it across the goal,” Kerr said.
“It's something we've struggled with recently, getting big impact from subs. Today, both of those boys, in particular, were good.”
The Rhinos lived up to their reputation as a defensive-minded club, limiting the Riverhounds to six shots and holding 56 percent of the possession. They also managed 15 shots of their own, including a first-half header by Wal Fall that struck the crossbar and a second-half corner kick that required a goal-line clearance by Jack Thompson, who made his first start in more than a month for the Riverhounds.
The clubs, whose rivalry dates to the Riverhounds' inception in 1999, meet one more time this season on Oct. 7, a game the Riverhounds hope will have playoff implications.
“It's just a matter of breaking down the tape, seeing where we are at that point and seeing what we can do better,” Brandt said.