Rowdies Unbeaten Streak Continues with 2-2 Draw Against RailHawks
The Tampa Bay Rowdies played to a 2-2 draw against the Carolina RailHawks on Saturday night at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC. The Rowdies would score two second-half goals in the span of three minutes to erase a RailHawks 1-0 lead. However, the home team would find the equalizer in the 90th minute to level the match at 2-2. With the tie, Tampa Bay extended their unbeaten run to nine matches, which includes four wins and five draws.
With forward Lucky Mkosana making his first start for the Rowdies, he would almost score the opening goal in the 5th minute. The forward received a great cross by midfielder Luke Mulholland, but goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald would save his header.
Entering the 16th minute, the visiting team was able to come up big defensively with back-to-back saves off the line by midfielder Stuart Campbell and Mulholland respectively. Although the Rowdies seemed to control more possession of the ball, the RailHawks would exploit the space behind Tampa Bay’s defense.
It was Shipalane who scored the lone goal of the first half after 30 minutes of play. A series of dangerous chances, which included a shot off the crossbar, finished with Shipalane goal, smashing his shot into the bottom left corner of the net. The midfielder has now scored on the Rowdies in three straight matches.
Minutes later, the NASL’s leading goal scorer, Brian Shriver, nearly made it 2-0 as he fired his shot off the left post of Restrepo. Tampa Bay closed the half controlling most of the play, but Carolina would still prove dangerous with a rapid counter attack led by Shipalane.
The Rowdies goalkeeper would make a brilliant save in the 54th minute to keep the deficit at just one goal. Shriver received a long through pass that left him one-on-one with Restrepo, but the goalkeeper was patient and waited for the forward to take the shot. Restrepo would make the save, as Shriver would try to chip him for the goal.
With Mkosana providing pace and movement up front, he nearly found the equalizer in the 56th minute with a backheel finish that was pushed out for a corner kick by Fitzgerald.
Tampa Bay saw the momentum shift their way and in the 72nd minute found the equalizer. Midfielder Evans Frimpong picked up Hristov’s cross and placed his shot in the back of the net. With Hristov leading the Rowdies in assists, Frimpong now has two goals in his last two matches.
The Rowdies were not done yet, as minutes later Mulholland led a perfect counter attack down the right flank, sending in a cross to defender Jay Needham. The Texas native headed the incoming ball into the far post to put the Rowdies up 2-1. The go-ahead goal was Needham's third goal of the 2013 season.
The visiting team had several chances to put the game away, but the offensive pressure applied by Carolina led to the final goal of the match. As the clock hit 90 minutes, Captain Austin Da Luz picked up a rebound from outside the box and slammed his shot into the bottom right corner of the net. The midfielder’s goal leveled the match at 2-2, extending their unbeaten run at home.
Carolina: Tiyi Shipalane - 30th minute
Rowdies: Evans Frimpong - 72nd minute (Assisted by Georgi Hristov)
Rowdies: Jay Needham - 74th minute (Assisted by Luke Mulholland)
Carolina: Austin Da Luz - 90th minute
Carolina: Fitzgerald; Rutkiewicz, James, Hamilton, Low; Shipalane (Addlery 87'), Millington (Elizondo 82'), Walker, Da Luz (Captain); Martinez (Schilawski 73'), Shriver
Rowdies: Restrepo; Sanfilippo (Captain), Yamada, Needham, Gafa; Mulholland, Campbell (Hill 62'), Savage (Del Do 62'); Frimpong, Hristov; Mkosana (Cox 83')