WILMINGTON, NC. – The Los Angeles Blues fell 2-1 to hosts Wilmington Hammerheads on Friday in front of 5,783 at Legion Stadium. Manny Guzman gave the home side the lead at the half-hour mark, followed by a 61st minute equalizer from Los Angeles’ Peter Byers and the game-winner by Wilmington’s Andryi Budnyi fifteen minutes later. With the loss, the Blues fall to 8-6-7 on the season.
Wilmington set the pace early on with four attempts on goal in the opening quarter-hour. Halfway through the first period, the Hammerheads then took their second corner kick of the match and Welsh defender Gareth Evans battled to head the ball past Blues goalkeeper Amir Abedzadah and into the net, but only to be called back for an offensive foul.
The hosts continued to attack and forced their third corner kick in the 30th minute. Current USL PRO leading scorer Luke Mulholland lofted the ball in to midfielder Manny Guzman, who was eagerly waiting at the far post and headed it into the top corner of the goal for a 1-0 lead.
In the 61st minute, the Blues’ speedy striker Peter Byers was on the finishing end of a breakaway goal. Having been released by a long ball out of midfield, Byers muscled of a defender and beat Wilmington goalkeeper Brock Duckworth’s diving effort to the far right corner to level the score at 1-1.
Just as it looked like the visitors were playing well enough to earn at least a point, the Hammerheads rallied back in the 76th minute. Forward Andryi Budnyy was fortunate to find himself wide open in front of the goal, as the ball was toe-poked to him by a Blues defender. The Ukrainian took full advantage of the opportunity, as he chipped the ball over the onrushing Abedzadeh for a wonderful finish that gave his side a 2-1 lead.
Los Angeles showed great fighting spirit in the game’s final twenty minutes, but they were unable to find the net as Wilmington held on for a hard-earned three points. Recent Blues signing Artur Aghasyan’s had the day’s final chance, his shot from the top of the 18-yard box sailing wide of the far post. It was disappointment all around for the visitors after a strong second-half performance that had seen them register nine shots on goal, as opposed to only one before the break.