Very few coaches can say they have a winning record against the Flint City Bucks. The Bucks, after all, have 14 division championships to their name. They are also the defending champion of USL League 2, winning the 2019 playoffs after a second-place finish and barely making it into the 2019 playoffs. Kings Hammer has one distinct advantage against the Bucks, as it has one of the coaches that can say they have a winning record against Flint City.
Historically, Paul Nicholson’s teams have played extremely well against the Bucks, and he has a 2-1-2 career record against them. Flint City has four national titles to go along with those division titles. Over the years, the Bucks just tend to reload. Tuesday’s 7 p.m. match at Xavier should be a solid test for Kings Hammer FC as it looks to add another three points to the six they already have this season. The Bucks enter the match with one win under their belt against league newcomer Toledo Villa.
Players to watch on the Flint City roster
Matthew Fearnley- MF: The Georgia State University midfielder likes to let the shots fly. In the first half of the match against Toledo, Fearnley had five shots. In addition to a number of on-field honors in the Sunbelt Conference, Fearnley also has a number of academic awards. The Ashton-in-Makerfield, England, native played in 12 matches for Georgia State, tying for the team lead with five goals and one assist for 11 points. He also took a team-high 31 shots, including 19 shots on goal in the 2020 season.
Ids Hannema- MF: The Dutch striker plays his college soccer at Wright State University. Hannema played in seven matches for the Raiders, starting six of them. He logged 471 minutes in the short spring Horizon League season. He recorded 13 shots for Wright State, six of which were on goal. In the Bucks opener against Toledo, he scored two goals in 13 minutes of play. He scored in the 83rd and 88th minutes to put the cap on the Bucks victory.
Isaac Walker- GK: The Western Michigan Bronco keeper hails from Orlando, Florida. Walker started all 11 matches for the Broncos in 2021 and logged 920 minutes. He recorded three shutouts this college season and faced 102 shots during the season. Walker only gave up one goal against Toledo, and it will take quality offense to get through the Bucks defense to test him during this match.
Kings Hammer’s Super Sub
Winger Sam Robinson has subbed in during the last two matches for KHFC. Robinson provides a tremendous spark off the bench. It remains to be seen if Nicholson will continue to use the same in this capacity. Robinson offers the club fresh legs coming off the bench, giving Kings Hammer a dangerous weapon. While he started in the season opener, Robinson has played extremely well in his limited time since. His effort in the time that he’s on the pitch is noticeable, and the coaching staff has to take that into account when selecting the 18 for the match against the Bucks.
Robinson played this past season for Stu Riddle’s Northern Kentucky Norse, after transferring from the University of Cincinnati. He has played in all three matches to this point for KHFC, so his availability for this match could be in question because of the short turnaround from Saturday’s match to Tuesday’s match. Given his effort, one has to think that he will be available for selection against the Bucks.
Protect their house
Xavier University’s Corcoran field is beautiful, and while it is a smaller facility, the crowd is right on top of the match. The more the fans are into the match, the harder it will be for the Bucks to get into the match. Kings Hammer needs to create chances and shut down the Bucks offensively to keep the crowd into the match. The home opener was loud when KHFC was leading and when they scored goals. The energy that the crowd gives is huge for these young players as they look to make their way to the pro ranks.
Keys to Victory for Kings Hammer
- Don’t allow Flint City to control the pace. If Kings Hammer FC can continue to play at its pace and keep working the ball around at the top of the 18, it will cause Flint City problems.
- Do not retaliate. Flint City didn’t have any yellow cards in its first match this season. In 2019, they had 20 of them. The interesting thing is that Flint City traditionally is a very physical team. It tends to draw cards more than it earns them.
- Continue to utilize play on the wings to generate offense, but cross the ball earlier. The early cross has been there for KHFC throughout these first three matches. It tends to hold the ball pretty deep into the opponent’s defensive third and then tries to cross the ball. While at times that gets it a corner kick, there seems to be an opportunity to cross the ball earlier, especially on the counter-attack.
- Minimize mistakes in the defensive third. KHFC needs to continue to work at being more comfortable with the ball at its feet. This is even more important in the defensive third. In the past, Nicholson could rely on a goalkeeper like Wesley Storm to control the ball with his feet and play the ball out of the back. Despite being very young, Scott Williams appears to have the best feet of the Kings Hammer keepers.
- Keep Danny Barlow involved when the ball is in play. If KHFC takes advantage of Barlow’s movement off the ball when he makes runs, it will be very hard to beat. Barlow is an extremely intelligent player, and his work rate is phenomenal.
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