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Dallman's goal boosts Riverhounds past Wilmington

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Pittsburgh snags 2-1 win in Sunday afternoon contest

The Pittsburgh Riverhounds shook off a sluggish first half to defeat the Wilmington Hammerheads 2-1 on a very warm Sunday afternoon at Highmark Stadium in a key USL PRO league match, thanks to a spectacular play by their leading playmaker.

Midfielder Matt Dallman, who leads the USL PRO in assists, broke a 1-1 tie in the 79th minute with a highlight reel goal.

As a ball was played toward Hammerheads goal keeper Troy Hernandez, Dallman came flying through the goalie box, beat Hernandez to the ball, turned and blasted the ball into the net with his left foot as he was falling backwards.

"No one was really going for it.  Everyone was kind of hesitant.  I think the defender didn't know if the goalie was coming out," said Dallman.

"I made a run for it.  I was able to get it and put it back across the goal and thankfully it went it."

The play happened so fast that from the sidelines, it was tough for Riverhounds head coach Justin Evans to see exactly what happened.

"I didn't really see anything. There were so many guys in the box, but he made a great play.  Listen, he's fast, but he's quicker than he is fast. He sort of dives into spots and guys don't think he's going to get there and he does," said Evans.

"That's one of his attributes.  Besides serving great balls to Jose (Angulo) and others.  He sort of snakes in there and that's what he's been doing for us all year."

And this time, Dallman, the league leader with 12 assists, scored his second goal of the year and quite possibly the team's most important goal.

"That's three points for us and not them. That's pretty big," said Evans.

"And we were actually thinking about subbing him off right before that."

Evans did go to his bench at halftime, bringing in Seth C'deBaca, Mike Seth and Stefan Lundberg.

He said he shared a few choice words at halftime for his team as they came out sluggish in the first half.

"I don't think we can say that on camera," chuckled Evans afterwards.

"I don't think there were many coaching points.  We didn't come out with much energy.  We were flat.  We had to make a few substitutions."

Two of those subs, Seth and C'deBaca would hook up to give the Riverhounds their first lead of the match.

In the 51st minute, after keeping a ball alive at the top of the box with a couple of nice touches in the air, Jose Angulo played a ball over the Wilmington defenders to C'deBaca who sent it toward the goal for Seth to knock it home for the 1-0 lead.

"Two times in the first half, we got the ball in the box, but nobody was there," said Evans.

"I asked our guys to get in there. Make something happen.  Mike was able to do that."

Angulo, the USL's second leading goal scorer with 11 tallies, was getting a lot of pressure every time he touched the ball from the Wilmington defenders. On the play that led to the goal, Angulo was surrounded by Hammerhead defenders, but under pressure he was able to lay the ball over to C'deBaca who set up the goal.

But it would be another 2nd half home lead that would be short lived for the Riverhounds.

Wilmington struck back with the equalizer in the 72nd minute, after a ball played into the box with numerous players going for it in the air bounced toward the goal, Kyle Greig put it past Riverhounds goal keeper Hunter Gilstrap.

The game was tied, and the Riverhounds were facing a critical point in their season. Would this be another blown lead?  A tie would have kept the two teams even in 9th place in the league standings, four points behind the next teams.   Not exactly what Evans and his team wanted to be facing as they play five of the final seven games on the road.

And that's when their dynamic midfielder, Dallman stepped in and made a big play.

The win puts the Riverhounds three points ahead of the Hammerheads and right in contention, as they are now trailing three teams by two points in the race for the final playoff spots.

"We are confident we'll be in the playoffs. We haven't had the rub of the snuff recently.  Especially against LA and Charlotte, those were two tough losses, and points we know we could have had," said Evans.

"But we're resound in what we do. We know it won't be getting any easier, but we've got to go out there and get it done."

It was a good turnout for a Sunday matinee game, with 3,111 in attendance.

Wilmington outshot the Riverhounds 10-7, but shots were even in the 2nd half 4-4.

The two teams will meet again in the second to last game of the season for the Riverhounds on August 14 at Wilmington.

The Riverhounds will now play their next four matches and five of their final seven matches on the road.  Their next home game will be vs VSI Tampa Bay FC on Sunday, August 11 at 3:30 p.m.   Tampa are one of three teams that lead the Riverhounds in the standings by two points.

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