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Hartford Athletic tops Miami FC for third win in four games

The Hartford Athletic celebrate after beating Miami FC on Saturday, 3-2 for their third win in four starts. (Photo courtesy Hartford Athletic)

HARTFORD, April 6, 2024 – Goalie Paul Walters made five saves and the Athletic got three individual goals to lead Hartford to a 3-2 win over Miami FC in USL Championship play Saturday afternoon at Trinity Health Stadium.

It was the third win in four games for Hartford (3-1) and their second straight win at home. It’s a great start for the Athletic, who won just four games a year ago.

Deshane Beckford used his speed to help Hartford grab a 1-0 lead in the waning minutes of the first half. Beckford continued to wreak havoc as the Jamaican speedster capped off an excellent individual half by giving his team the lead in the final minutes of the first half.

On the counter attack after a Miami corner kick, Beckford started the breakout by feeding the ball up ahead to Anderson Asiedu at midfield. Asiedu tapped the ball forward and Beckford made a dazzling run to chase it down, beating a charging Miami goalie Daniel Gagliardi to the ball.

Now in a foot race towards the open goal with Gagliardi out of the box, Beckford took a few more touches to create space and bounced his shot into the net from just outside the box. The goal was scored in the 45th minute and after three minutes of stoppage time, Hartford took a 1-0 lead at the half.

Hartford extended their lead to 2-0 early in the second half when Romario Williams scored off a corner kick in the 54th minute. Joe Farrell elevated to head Jay Chapman’s ball to the right post, where Williams played it off one bounce and into the net. After missing a penalty kick in the first half, Williams made no mistake on his second scoring opportunity of the afternoon.

Trailing by two goals, Miami (1-3-1) began to claw their way back into the game with a goal from Gabriel Cabral. After Nicolas Cardona’s cross deflected off of Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Cabral fired a bouncing shot through traffic and past the diving Paul Walters to the bottom left corner of the net to cut Hartford’s lead in half.

Protecting a one-goal lead in stoppage time, second half sub Enoch Mushagalusa gave Athletic breathing room with his first goal of the season. Off of a turnover in the Miami third, Marcus Epps led the ball into the box for Mushagalusa. The 24-year-old striker booted a low shot that deflected off the sliding Gagliardi and into the net to give the Athletic a 3-1 lead.

Hartford conceded an own goal off the back of Joe Farrell in the third minute of stoppage time, but it proved to be too little too late for Miami.

Hartford returns to action on Wednesday, April 17 when they host New York City FC II of the MLS Next Pro league in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at Trinity Health Stadium at 7 p.m.

The Athletic resume play in USL Championship on Saturday, April 20 at home against San Antonio FC at 5 p.m.

Hartford 3, Miami FC 2
At Hartford
Miami FC (1-3-1)          0  2  – 2
Hartford (3-1)                1  2  — 3
Goals: Deshane Beckford (H), Enoch Mushagalusa (H), Romario Williams (H), own goal, Gabriel Cabral (M); Assists: Joe Farrell (H), Marcus Epps (H), Asiedu (H); Saves: Paul Walters (H) 3

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