Kickers top Antigua, move closer to playoffs

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Richmond Kickers fired their way to a late 2-0 victory against Antigua Friday night, courtesy of a goal and assist from second-half substitute Gerson dos Santos.

The first half was a high-energy display from both sides, and Antigua nearly opened the scoring in the sixth minute following a breakaway by Tamorley Thomas, but the Barracuda midfielder skied his shot over the bar and out for a goal kick.

The Kickers rallied back in the 11th minute when Sascha Goerres played a dangerous ball across the face of goal, but Antigua goalkeeper James Molvin claimed the ball in front of Matthew Delicâte to maintain the 0-0 scoreline. Goerres continued to provide the Kickers with scoring opportunities throughout the first half, finding Phillippe Davies in the box with a well-placed cross in the 29th minute and curling a low shot around the wall on a 39th minute free kick; however, both chances were off-target.

Richmond introduced midfielders Nozomi Hiroyama and Mike Burke for the beginning of the second half, and their energy afforded the Kickers some sustained offensive pressure against a tiring Antigua side. Delicâte nearly capped off a brilliant spell of possession with a goal in the 50th minute, but the impressive Molvin tipped his goal-bound header onto the crossbar to safety.

For all their pressure, the Kickers couldn't manage to put the ball in the back of the net. Multiple chances in the latter stages of the match sailed wide or high of the goal frame or were saved by Molvin.

Richmond Head Coach Leigh Cowlishaw introduced Dos Santos to the game in the 82nd minute as the Kickers struggled to breakdown the defensive stronghold put forth by the Barracudas. The Brazilian scored the go-ahead goal with his first touch. Hiroyama claimed possession in the Antigua half and played a diagonal ball into the penalty area where Burke laid the ball into the path of the onrushing dos Santos. The midfielder rifled his shot into the upper corner of the net beyond Molvin to give the Kickers their first goal of the match in the 84th minute.

Dos Santos turned provider deep into stoppage time when he rolled a pass to Delicâte in the six-yard box. The Kickers' all-time leading goal scorer flicked the ball up to himself and launched a side volley into the net to ensure a 2-0 victory. The Richmond Kickers will return to City Stadium next Saturday, August 11, as they host the Harrisburg City Islanders at 7:00pm.

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