OCEAN CITY - Reading United AC was fast and skilled as it turned back the Ocean City Nor'easters in a showdown for first place in the USL Premier Development League's Mid Atlantic Division on Friday night.
Reading won 2-1 at Carey Stadium on a goal by Olutolani Ibikunle, who booted one from just outside the left post in the 66th minute. Steve Neumann's cross went right through the goal mouth to set up the score.
Reading improved to 5-0-1; the Nor'easters fell to 4-2. They would have taken over first place with a win (3 points for a win, 1 for a tie).
"I thought we did very well tonight, and this is a difficult field to play on," Reading coach Brendan Burke said. "We play on (artificial) turf, and there are different levels of grass here."
Ocean City failed to clear the ball after a free kick by the visitors in the seventh minute, and Reading's Deshorn Brown beat O.C. goalie John McCarthy from 5 yards away for the game's first goal.
The announced crowd of 421 came alive at the end of the 21st minute when Ocean City's Frank Tweneboa tied it at 1-1. Tweneboa sent a low blast from 16 yards out on the right wing that found net in the left corner. Max Hamilton set up the play with a through-ball.
"I sent it low to the far post because I saw he (Reading goalie Emmanuel Martin) was leaning toward the other side," said the 20-year-old Tweneboa, a Mercer Community College player who is from Ghana. "They were a fast, good team. We need to play better defense in the first 20 minutes and work on little things and get better."
McCarthy reached up and made a big save on Reading's Ryan Finley from right in front of the net in the 73rd minute.
It looked as if the Nor'easters might get a tying goal two minutes later when Finley picked up his second yellow card to put his team one man short for the rest of the game. Finley was carded after a hard takedown of O.C.'s Jonny Dolezal. The crowd got a laugh as Finley tried to knock the card out of the referee's hand as he held it up.
But the visitors went into a shell and Ocean City didn't capitalize.
"We played a 4-3-3, but after the red card we went into a 1-4-4 with Pedro Ribeiro up front," Burke said "Pedro had a great game. He didn't score, but he drew three and four defenders all night."
Ocean City will try to bounce back when it hosts the Baltimore Bohemians, a new PDL franchise, at 7 p.m. Sunday at Carey Stadium.
"It was a good effort, but we didn't do enough to get the result," Ocean City coach Tim Oswald said. "We have to do a better job (defending) on restarts and set pieces, which is how they scored. When they were a man short, we didn't get behind them and get enough shots."
Note: Reading United AC, the only PDL affiliate of Major League Soccer's Philadelphia Union, will host an exhibition with its parent club at 7:30 p.m. today at Albright College (Pa.). Burke also is the head coach of the Union's reserve team.
Contact Guy Gargan:
Reading 1 1-2
Ocean City 1 0-1
Goals-Brown, Ibikunle R. Tweneboa OC.
Goalies-Martin (3) R. McCarthy (3) OC.
Records-Reading 5-0-1, O.C. 4-2.