The Wilmington Hammerheads were looking to continue their climb up the table in USL Pro over the weekend as they took on the Richmond Kickers. With both teams sitting in the top half of the table and looking like contenders for playoff spots come the fall it shaped up to be one of the better matchups of the year for the Hammerheads so far.
Two of the three loansharks were in the lineup from the start for Wilmington as once again Quillan Roberts got the nod in goal while Manuel Aparicio got the start in the middle of the part. Aparicio would wind up playing just over an hour and create one scoring chance for himself in the first half. Roberts went the full 90 and was solid in goal as both times the ball wound up in the back of the net there was little he could have done about it.
The star of the trio was once again Jordan Hamilton though as he seemed to be the spark that the Hammerheads needed. With the team down 2-0 after a pair of Kickers' goals in the first 45 minutes it looked like Wilmington was going to go down without much of a fight. Then Hamilton came into the game for Aparicio in the 62nd minute and the Hammerheads started to look much more threatening.
Hamilton got a chance to get his name on the scoresheet early when he found himself in space at the top of the box after a quick free kick had managed to catch Richmond napping. His effort was a bit too tame though and was easily held by Joe Willis in goal.
Hamilton was not done getting chances though as in the 80th minute he would use his size and strength to create some space for himself in the area before rising up to head home a corner. The goal is his third of the season in just five appearances and pushed his goals per 90 minutes up to 1.11.
Just minutes after Hamilton got the Hammerheads back in the game they found themselves level as Sammy Ochoa was able to pick out Mickael Oliveria in space who then slotted the ball home to level things at two in the 83rd minute. After that it was all Wilmington as they pressed for a winner with both Hamilton and Olivera having chances to add a second tally and win the game. It took a number of strong saves from Willis to keep the game level at 2-2 but in the end the Hammerheads just could not find the winner in the closing minutes as both teams had to settle for a single point.
The draw moves Wilmington's record to 5-1-4 on the season which has them sitting 6th in the table. They will have chances to move up the table though as they currently have at least two games in hand on all the teams above them and in some cases they have as many as 5. It will be a busy second half of the season for them as they will have several weekends coming up with multiple games.
Next on the league schedule for the Hammerheads is a date with the Chicago Fire reserve team at Legion Stadium on Saturday, June 21 which is followed a week later by a rematch against Richmond this time taking place in Wilmington.
Sandwiched in the middle of all these games is a friendly this week against Toronto FC. The partner clubs will take to the field at Legion Stadium on Wednesday (June 18th) for what should be a fun match. For TFC it will help to keep fitness levels up during the three week World Cup break and for the Hammerheads it will serve as more of a learning experience of what it is like to take on a top tier side.