Todd Morton's heroics shut out Reading United to keep Nor'easters' playoff hopes alive

Fredinho's PK is the difference as Ocean City is now tied for second and final playoff spot

The Ocean City Nor'easters grabbed all three points in a crucial 1-0 win at home against their oldest rival Reading United AC. Fredlin "Fredinho" Mompremier (Limbe, Haiti / Fairleigh Dickinson) scored a first half penalty kick which proved to be the difference in the 45th all-time meeting between the two clubs.

With the win, the Nor'easters (8-4-0) move back into a tie with Reading (8-2-0) for second place in the Mid-Atlantic Division, which is important because the top two teams qualify for the PDL playoffs. However, United has played two fewer games than Ocean City, and holds the head-to-head tiebreaker, making it a difficult task for the Nor'easters to make the playoffs.

To make the postseason, the defending Eastern Conference champions must win their two remaining home games against the New York Red Bulls U-23s (Sunday, July 9, 7 p.m.) and Lehigh Valley United (Wednesday, July 12, 7 p.m.) and Reading need to slip up in their final four games. If United earn more than five points in their four remaining games (three points for a win, one point for a tie), then they will clinch second place. (Standings and remaining schedules listed below)

WATCH: Video highlights of Ocean City's 1-0 win over Reading United (SNJToday.com)

The lone goal of the game came in the 30th minute, when Fredinho went down in the box and the referee pointed to the spot after a bit of a delay that left Reading unhappy. Fredinho stepped up and struck the ball to United goalkeeper Alexander Bouillenec's right. Bouillenec guessed correctly, but Fredinho put it just out of his reach.

This was Fredinho's team-leading seventh goal of the season, eighth in all competitions.

Just two minutes later, Francisco Neto (Rio De Janeiro, Brazil / West Virginia Tech) put a header on target from a corner kick that Fraser Colmer (Southampton, England / Radford) sent in. Bouillenec kept this one out and did not let the Nor'easters double their advantage.

It was a big night in goal for Todd Morton (West Chester, PA / Delaware) as he kept his third clean sheet of the season. He made three saves and was incredibly commanding at the back of a defense that has been riddled with injuries. Morton was commanding off his line all night long and was able to claim any and all crosses that Reading sent in the box. He had to deal with two late attacks from United. In the 90th minute, JJ Williams put a header on target that Morton did well to hold onto. Then, with the last touch of the ball, four minutes into stoppage time, Morton parried the ball away after it was destined for the top left corner.

Morton becomes the first Ocean City goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet against Reading since a 5-0 home win back on May 22, 2007 (Adam Edwards).

Sunday's win also extends Ocean City's regular season home winning streak at Carey Stadium to seven games, which dates back to last season. This is the longest home winning streak since the 2004 season, and it was achieved in front of a season high crowd at the Beach House.

Ocean City and Reading United have one of the longest-running rivalries in the Premier Development League. With Sunday's victory, the Nor'easters now leads the all-time series 20-18-7. United still won the season's 3-game series after a pair of victories in Reading on June 2 and June 29.

Next up for Ocean City, they will host the first-place New York Red Bulls (10-1-0) on Sunday, July 9 at the Beach House. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

However, before that league game, the Nor'easters will play an exhibition game on Friday, July 7 against the New England Revolution U-23s. Kickoff is also scheduled for 7 p.m. It is the first of two friendlies against Major League Soccer academy teams, with D.C. United U-23s also visiting Ocean City on July 15.

MID-ATLANTIC DIVISION STANDINGS (Updated after 7/2/17)
Top 2 teams qualify for the PDL playoffs
Reading holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Ocean City

Team GP W L T PTS GF GA +/-
NY Red Bulls U23s 11 10 1 0 30 38 10 +28
Reading United AC 10 8 2 0 24 24 9 +15
OC NOR'EASTERS 12 8 4 0 24 20 13 +7
Jersey Express 11 4 7 0 12 20 27 -7
Lehigh Valley United 9 3 5 1 10 15 19 -4
FA Euro New York 10 2 8 0 6 6 22 -16
Evergreen FC 11 1 9 1 4 11 34 -23

Remaining schedules:

New York Red Bulls U-23s
Sunday, July 9 - at Ocean City Nor'easters
Wednesday, July 12 - home vs. FA Euro New York
Saturday, July 15 - home vs. Evergreen FC

Reading United AC
Wednesday, July 5 - at Lehigh Valley United
Saturday, July 8 - home vs. Jersey Express
Wednesday, July 12 - at Jersey Express
Saturday, July 15 - at Lehigh Valley United

Ocean City Nor'easters
Sunday, July 9 - home vs. New York Red Bulls U-23s
Wednesday, July 12 - home vs. Lehigh Valley United
 

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