Richmond Kickers 2, Lexington SC 1
|RICHMOND KICKERS||2||60′ Belmar (Gordon), 76′ Gomiero (Mecham)|
|LEXINGTON SC||1||90+3′ Smart (penalty)|
RICHMOND, Va. — The Richmond Kickers’ (3-2-4, 13 pts) earned a 2-1 win in front of 5,252 fans in their first-ever matchup with league debutants, Lexington SC (2-5-1, 7 pts), Saturday night as the Roos tentatively vaulted into third place in USL League One.
Kharlton Belmar and João Gomiero each scored their first goals at home to reward RVA for their continued support in making City Stadium the most-attended venue in the league.
Richmond and Lexington locked horns in a competitive first half as both keepers put together strong performances between the pipes, stifling dangerous chances and keeping the score locked at zeroes at the break.
The Kickers powered forward on the momentum of their first-half performance and found their first goal in the 60th minute.
Richmond progressed the ball into Lexington’s penalty area, but the visitors forced a turnover. However, they failed to clear the ball out as Justin Sukow raced to keep the ball alive with a slide and pass out wide to Owayne Gordon.
The winger took on his defender, bouncing outside before cutting the ball back across the six-yard box. Belmar pounced on the opportunity and powered a low-driven shot into the net as the keeper was left ball-watching.
Richmond struck for the eventual game-winner 16 minutes later.
Sukow was the catalyst again as he lofted a ball from midfield up the right wing for Jake Mecham who was timing a forward run perfectly, shedding his defender. With acres of space, Mecham ran onto the ball near the backline and cut the ball back toward the penalty spot as Gomiero perfectly timed his run into the box and one-timed a curling ball away from the keeper and right inside of the far post.
The goal marked Gomiero’s third of the week after he scored his first goals as a member of the Kickers on the road at North Carolina FC on Wednesday night. Mecham’s assist was his first as a professional.
Lexington had the opportunity to cut Richmond’s lead late after drawing a penalty in the third minute of eight allotted minutes for stoppage.
After Akira Fitzgerald deflected a Lexington attempt on the goal with a kick save, Lexington’s Nico Brown was running toward the ball with his back toward goal. Gomiero appeared to get to the ball first as his leg collided with Brown’s, but it was determined as Brown went to ground that the contact was enough for a penalty kick.
Veteran attacker Don Smart stepped up and hit a low shot to the left. Fitzgerald dove in the correct direction, but the shot had just enough pace on it to beat his reaching hand and end up in the back of the net.
The win at City Stadium proved cathartic as the Kickers celebrated their first league victory at home. Richmond dominated the stats outshooting Lexington 17-13, making six more final third entries, and earning four more corners. And the night ended with hundreds of fans crowding the front of the seating bowl as the Kickers signed autographs a long while after the final whistle rang out in the stadium.
The Kickers are back on the road next week to face reigning USL League One Champs, South Georgia Tormenta FC on Saturday, May 27th. Kickoff for the match is set for 7:30 p.m. The Kickers will host an official watch party at the Ardent Barrel Room.
The Kickers then return home on Saturday, June 3rd to host Chattanooga Red Wolves SC during Military Appreciation Night presented by Tech For Troops. The doors at City Stadium are set to open at 5:45 p.m. ahead of the 7 p.m. kickoff. Tickets are available at richmondkickers.com/tickets.
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