By Hartford City FC
A pair of first-half goals from Alec Hughes and two goals from second-half substitute Tim Donovan lifted Hartford City FC (5-0-1, 16 points) to a 4-0 victory over Kingston Stockade FC (1-3-2, 5 points) on Saturday night at Trinity Health Stadium.
With the result, Hartford City have now won four straight matches in the NPSL’s North Atlantic Conference play and continue to sit at the top of the standings. And with Syracuse FC picking up a late equalizer earlier in the day against second-placed Valeo FC, HCFC have opened up a five-point gap on Valeo FC and a ten-point gap on Cedar Stars FC, who are currently in third place.
After seeing his four-game goal scoring streak to open the season come to an end last Sunday against the New York Shockers, Hartford’s Alec Hughes only needed six minutes into Saturday’s match to find the back of the net. A cross from the right flank wasn’t dealt with by the visitors’ center backs and it fell to HCFC captain Mark Grant, who unselfishly squared it across to Hughes and the UMass striker stroked it home from six yards out.
Six minutes later, it nearly became 2-0 to the Colts as left back Zach Sauer teased a cross to the back post, only to see Matt McGonigle hammer a volley just wide of the post. Hughes then had a chance to net his second of the night as he played a lovely one-two with Dylan Scanley in the 22nd minute and was in on goal but put his effort just over the crossbar.
Stockade FC started to find their rhythm going forward as four minutes after the Hughes miss, Kingston’s Richard Morris got loose in the back and headed Jack Mulhare’s cross just wide of the target.
The turning point in the match came in the 44th minute as after Stockade FC’s Noah Robinson got fouled by Taj Salawu right outside of the area, Alessio Hernandez’s free kick beat the wall and Hartford City goalkeeper Jamis Fite but couldn’t beat the crossbar. But as the law of averages would play out, if one team came just inches from scoring, the other team would capitalize.
Hughes would do just that in the first minute of first-half stoppage time by unleashing a powerful left-footed effort from a tight angle that slipped past Kingston goalkeeper Sebastian Cutler and into the net. Hughes’ goal total currently stands at six for the season, which is the best in the conference and second in the East Region, only behind FC Motown’s Assane Ben Fall’s seven goals.
The second half turned into a half with more yellow cards doled out by the referee than chances, as five players, two from Hartford City and three from Stockade FC, were shown yellow cards in the first 25 minutes of the second half.
With the visitors’ legs starting to tire over the final quarter hour of the match, Hartford City’s Tim Donovan was subbed in to try and take advantage of Stockade’s fatigue. He rewarded manager Nick Balistierri’s trust by scoring twice inside the last ten minutes. The first came in the 82nd minute as after Ronan O’Brien’s close-range effort was blocked, Donovan won the race to the rebound and tucked it home.
His second came in the 89th minute as second-half substitute Ronan Dillow drove forward and while earning the attention of a pair of Stockade defenders, threaded a pass into the path of Donovan who slotted one across the keeper and inside the far post for Hartford’s fourth and final goal of the night.
Donovan, who has now scored in back-to-back matches for the Colts, jumps into second place on the team in the scoring charts with three goals on the season.
Hartford City FC will wrap up their three-match homestand on Saturday, June 18 when they take on Cedar Stars FC. Kickoff at the Trinity Health Stadium is set for 7:00 pm and fans can purchase their tickets now by visiting HartfordCity.com.
Photo Credit: Phil Zolla/Hartford City FC