A late stoppage time header from Olakunle Banjo earned theBaltimore Bohemians a point in their first PDL match of the season, as they finished level at 2-2 with the Northern Virginia Royals on Saturday evening at Paul Angelo Russo Stadium.
The visitors opened the scoring just past the half hour mark, as Bryan Piriz dribbled past a Baltimore defender, paused, and fired from 20 yards out, hitting the top right corner, past a flailing Andrew Harris in the Bohemians net.
Baltimore nearly equalized two minutes before the interval, as Austin Martz received a cross on the left side of the pitch, but he could only see his fierce strike carom back off the crossbar.
The Royals were down to ten men on 56 minutes, as starting netminder Joel Helmick came off his line and upended a Bohemian forward with a crunching tackle. Reserve keeper Robert Flott was called in to relieve Helmick, and it was shortly thereafter that the replacement faced his first test. Off the resulting free kick, Brandon Allen struck with a brilliant curling effort into the top left corner to level the score at 1-1.
Just four minutes later, the visitors regained the advantage. Piriz took a shot from an acute angle near the edge of the box, forcing Harris to get his fingertips on the ball. The resulting deflection off the keeper's hands sent the ball slowly rolling just inside the far post to give the Royals a 2-1 lead.
The hosts desperately tried for another equalizer, using both their feet and heads, but multiple efforts failed to trouble Flott.
As the match ticked into stoppage time, Baltimore found its answer. A cross from the far side found the head of Olakune Banjo, who deftly directed the ball into the roof of the net, getting the hosts back on level terms at 2-2.
With just seconds to play, Baltimore made a last-ditch effort to gain all three points. Austin Martz was foiled again, not by the woodwork this time, but by his own cleats, as his drive from inside the box flew over the bar moments before the final whistle sounded.
Baltimore (0-0-1) travels to Brooklyn on Tuesday to face F.A. Euro in their first road match of the season.
Goals: NVA – Bryan Piriz (32', 62'); BAL – Brandon Allen (58'), Olakunle Banjo (90'+2)
Yellow Cards: NVA – Sean O'Reilly (37'), Bryan Piriz (86'); BAL – Matt Shinsky (77')