It was another tense match, but Sacramento Republic FC once again just edged rival Reno 1868 FC this season, with a 1-0 win that came courtesy of a penalty, this time on Wednesday in Greater Nevada Field in Reno.
The win is Sacramento’s second in a row, both by a 1-0 scoreline, as they aim to solidify their standing in Group A of USL Championship play.
Mark Briggs brought back Villyan Bijev into the starting XI, along with Ash Apollon in relief of the suspended Matt Mahoney.
It looked like Kharlton Belmar would open his Sac Republic account in the 10th minute, but his header off a looping cross at the back post sailed wide of the target. A few minutes later, Reno goalkeeper Ben Beaury was forced into two saves as Sacramento applied pressure in Reno’s box.
Rafael Diaz made two critical saves for Sacramento in the 24th minute, including a close-range chance by Corey Hertzog that looked like it was destined for the back of the net.
Hertzog had another good look just before the hour mark, when there was a loose ball in space on the edge of Sacramento’s box, but his chip attempt floated over the goal. Then, a few minutes after that, Hertzog had yet another shot, this one clanging off the crossbar.
Just before halftime, Sacramento got a chance to take the lead when Cameron Iwasa was brought down in Reno’s box. Bijev stepped to to take the penalty, and calmly scored it to give Sacramento the lead, against the run of play.
It looked like Reno may get a penalty of their own at the hour mark, as substitute Dekel Keinan handled the ball. But the referee judged the foul to come outside Sacramento’s box and Keinan and SRFC escaped a spot kick by the other team in the moment.
Republic FC, for once, had fewer shots but a few chances late in the game meant the 15-to-12 mark in total shots was nearly even. The same went for possession, which was almost 50-50 by the end of the match.
Diaz stepped up to make a couple crucial saves late, including a stop in the 92nd minute when a tricky header was goalbound and he pushed the ball over the goal.
I think this was a decent performance. Road games against rivals are always going to be tough, and this team is struggling to score from the run of play, still. But, this time they got a penalty, converted it, and held onto the narrow lead for a full half. There’s a lot to like about the ability to strangle the game with a lead, and they’re doing that now. If it results in wins, they can continue to fine-tune their game and hopefully find some real scoring form in the games ahead.
Sacramento are next scheduled to be in action on Saturday, when they’ll host Tacoma Defiance for the second time this season. The teams played a wild 3-3 draw in the first match, a result that SRFC were really disappointed with after taking a 3-1 lead in that game, so here’s a chance to pick up three points against Defiance this time around. We’ll see.
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