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Early goals in each half doom TFC II away to Bethlehem Steel FC

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The Young Reds lost 4-0 to Bethlehem on Saturday at Goodman Stadium

USL Photo - Toronto FC II’s Robert Boskovic attempts to keep Bethlehem Steel FC’s Michee Ngalina at bay in Saturday’s 4-0 loss at Goodman Stadium
TFC II’s Boskovic was called upon regularly to put out fires in Saturday’s 4-0 loss to Bethlehem
Bethlehem Steel FC

Toronto FC II lost 4-0 to Bethlehem Steel FC on Saturday afternoon, conceding four goals for the second consecutive game, in front of 2500 at Goodman Stadium.

Faris Moumbagna scored a little over a minute after kickoff to give the home side the lead and Michee Ngalina added a second three minutes after the restart to put the game out of reach. James Chambers added a third from the penalty spot in the 57th minute after a debatable decision from the referee and Chris Nanco completed the rout in the 75th minute, seconds after coming off the bench.

Head coach Michael Rabasca made a handful of changes to his starting XI.

Caleb Patterson-Sewell remained between the posts, while Lars Eckenrode made way for Kyle Bjornethun to be inserted into the central defensive pairing alongside Robert Boskovic. Tim Kubel and Terique Mohammed reprised their roles at right and left-back, respectively.

Liam Fraser, one of four first teamers available, took up a deep midfield role in tandem with Noble Okello in place of Dante Campbell. While Matt Srbely was once again in the middle of the action with Tsubasa Endoh to his right and Ryan Telfer on the left, replacing Malik Johnson.

Up top, Ayo Akinola stepped into the forward position vacated by Shaan Hundal, who would come on from the bench in the second half.

Bethlehem wasted little time in making the most of their home advantage.

A little over sixty seconds into the match, Prosper Chiluya played in Moumbagna down the left-channel with a lovely through-ball that shredded the Toronto back-line and he deftly squeezed a left-footer through Patterson-Sewell to open the scoring.

Under mounting pressure throughout the opening passages, TFC II defenders would be called upon repeatedly to make interventions: Bjornethun did well to get a piece of a shot from 17-year-old Brenden Aaronson and Boskovic made a huge block on an attempt from Ngalina. Moumbagna was unable to get on the end of an inviting ball played in from Santi Moar that would have doubled the advantage after just twelve minutes.

Toronto would find their composure, settle down the frantic nature of the start, and find a few looks of their own thereafter.

Endoh, fresh off Player of the Week honours, would sent a right-footer over the bar from range in the 15th minute after Fraser found him in space. And Srbely would send a searing drive from the top of the box towards goal, only for former teammate, Brandon Aubrey, to deflect it out for a corner kick.

Fraser was key in Toronto getting the game in hand, organizing the action around him and orchestrating attacks from deep, exhibiting his ability to spread the field with a pinpoint 60 yard pass for Kubel up the right-side.

Akinola would find a half-chance in the 31st minute with a tight-angled shot from the left that forced a kick-save out Jake McGuire in the Bethlehem goal. Srbely’s follow-up chance trailed wide.

But Steel FC too would find chances to add to their lead, particularly when Moumbagna got in clear down the right, only to square a ball to nobody in particular. Boskovic was called on again to make another big tackle before the half-time whistle, denying Chambers from getting on the end of a ball from Aaronson.

When play resumed, Bethlehem would find their second goal.

A turnover in a bad spot allowed the hosts a chance to counter where Aaronson found Ngalina in space on the right. His low right-footer across Patterson-Sewell nestled in the left-side of goal in the 48th minute.

Aaronson nearly added another two minutes later, smashing a near-post effort from a cut-back into the outside-netting.

Once more, Toronto would sort themselves out and go in search of a means back into the game. Akinola turned on Aubrey in the middle of the pitch, forcing the defender into a yellow card, while Telfer had one of his trademark surging runs up the left that resulted in a corner kick. Kubel too had a good driving move up the opposite flank a few minutes later, but it was cut out by Aubrey before it could cause any trouble.

The game would be put out of reach in the 56th minute when another turnover in a bad spot allowed Matt Mahoney to surge into the area, prompting an emergency intervention from Mohammed. Though he didn’t seem to make any contact, the Bethlehem attacker went down in the area, allowing the referee to point to the penalty spot.

A minute later Chambers was celebrating having guided his kick to Patterson-Sewell’s right. The keeper went correctly, but could not get his hand on the effort.

Rabasca went to his bench, replacing Telfer with Malyk Hamilton in the 59th minute, who made just his second USL appearance of the season, having joined TFC II from West Ham United’s academy in the off-season. Jordan Faria would come on for Endoh in the 61st minute.

Faria got involved in the action immediately, working his way up the right before attempting to find Srbely with a cut-back that was put out for a corner. Hamilton too looked lively in his first extended run out.

But back up the other end, chances to extend their lead would come Bethlehem’s way. Moumbagna could only touch a ball from the left over the bar, while Boskovic again was on hand to deny the troublesome striker with a firm tackle a few minutes later.

Fraser sent a free-kick over the target after Faria moved in field to win a dangerous set-piece for Toronto and Hamilton showed some good pace to steal up the pitch on the counter before checking back to find support. The ball was eventually worked to Srbely, who sent an effort from range off-target.

But Bethlehem were relentless: Aaronson was played up the middle, prompting an alert save from Patterson-Sewell; Kubel had to be sharp to recover and cut out a run from Moar; Moumbagna nearly played provider for Moar in the 73rd minute before making way for Chris Nanco.

Seconds after coming on, Nanco would round out the scoring with Bethlehem’s fourth goal of the afternoon, tapping in at the back-post on the end of a low ball from Ngalina on the right. All too easy for the home side.

Srbely nearly got on the end of a dangerous cross up the other end and Hundal came on for Bjornethun in the 80th minute, but the match was all but over.

Substitutes Drew Skundrich and Omar Holness both had looks in the waning minutes, the former denied by Patterson-Sewell and the latter touching over the frame. TFC II’s keeper would come up big again in stoppage time, making a double-save before getting beat on the third attempt. Boskovic was on hand to clear the goal-bound effort.

Always chasing the match, it was a rough day at the office.

An archive of the match is available on YouTube.

But there is little time to lick the wounds, as TFC II are back in action midweek when they host Ottawa Fury FC at Lamport Stadium on Wednesday night, kickoff is set for 6 p.m.