ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rowdies were defeated 1-0 in the dying minutes by the visiting Carolina RailHawks on Saturday night in front of 4,212 fans at Al Lang Stadium.
Two weeks ago, on August 9, the Rowdies and RailHawks played the highest-scoring match in the NASL Fall Season, a 4-3 thriller in North Carolina. Saturday night’s match didn’t quite live up to that, but did feature drama with Tiyi Shipalane’s stoppage time goal dooming the Rowdies to defeat.
“There’s a lesson to be learned,” Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. “The game is 90-plus minutes. Irrespective of the dominance and whatever possession we’ve had, we didn’t maintain focus and concentration for that amount of time. I think anyone that was here would suggest that was a little bit of a smash-and-grab result.”
The Rowdies dominated possession, holding the ball for 72 percent of the match, and also posted more corner kicks (5 to 3) and shots (12 to 8,) but were missing their final touch on the night.
In the 15th minute, Tampa Bay forward Georgi Hristov had one of the better scoring chances of the half, finding space to shoot from a very tight angle, but his right-footed effort curled around the far post and out of play.
The Rowdies built another scoring chance in the 42nd minute, with Amani Walker finding Keith Savage in box, but Carolina goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald dove to save Savage’s low shot.
Ricky Hill made no changes to his starting lineup from last week’s win over the New York Cosmos, but was forced into an early substitution. Defender JP Rodrigues collided with Carolina’s Leo Osaki in the 20th minute and was forced out of the match. Willie Hunt replaced Rodrigues in the 24th minute. Osaki was able to stay in the match.
The Rowdies piled on the pressure in the second half, were unable to find a goal, being shutout for the first time since August 2.
Hristov raced into a one-on-one situation with Fitzgerald in the 79th minute, but Carolina’s goalkeeper fell to his right and pushed the ball away for a game-saving save to keep the scoreline unblemished.
In the 85th minute, Savage found Darel Russell for a leaping header, but Russell’s effort was wide of the net.
Four minutes later, Hunt rose to meet a corner kick with a header of his own, but, again, the shot was off target.
As the 90th minute elapsed, Carolina earned a corner kick that would lead to their game-winning goal. After bouncing around the box, the ball was controlled by RailHawks forward Daniel Jackson, who fed Shipalane for the match-winner in stoppage time.
“It’s disappointing in the manner of how they scored and the time they scored,” Hill said. “We’ve got to learn quickly. I’m not too displeased with our performance in general. I can’t be over critical of the guys in terms of the effort they’ve put in, but it’s disappointing that we haven’t come away with something.”
It was Shipalane’s seventh career goal against the Rowdies.
“It’s just the game of soccer,” Rowdies captain Frankie Sanfilippo said. “You can dominate the game for the whole 90 minutes, but the one opportunity they had, they put in. I don’t remember a time that (Rowdies goalkeeper Matt) Pickens was taking shots or was under the gun. It just hurts. It’s unfortunate that we played for 90 minutes and dominated, but they just had a silly opportunity and put it in.”
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Rowdies and the New York Cosmos wrote another chapter in their dramatic history on a beautiful Saturday night in St. Pete, and this chapter is one that Rowdies fans will enjoy reading.
Goals from Keith Savage, Tamika Mkandawire and Blake Wagner saw the Rowdies fly past the Cosmos 3-1 in front of 4,273 fans at Al Lang Stadium.
“I’m delighted with the win,” Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. “Overall, it’s probably one of our most complete 90 minutes. We’ve had moments where we’ve been good in games, but we haven’t been able to sustain it those moments over longer periods. I think the forward play was lively tonight and Georgi (Hristov) and Amani (Walker) caused all sorts of problems for the Cosmos’ back two.”
The night started well, with a celebration for Rowdies captain Frankie Sanfilippo, who made his 101st official appearance for the club, and got even better fast as Savage smashed home the opening goal 22 minutes into the match.
Amani Walker muscled a Cosmos defender off the ball and raced down the right flank before crossing the ball to Savage near the corner of the six-yard box beyond the far post. Savage coolly redirected the ball on frame, with New York’s Hunter Freeman able to touch it, but not keep it out of the night.
Savage has been an impact player for the Rowdies in the last two weeks since being inserted into the starting lineup for the first time since May 17. Last week in Carolina, he had an assist on a free kick. Saturday night, he scored the Rowdies’ opening goal.
“I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity to play,” Savage said of his recent run of starts. “This team is deep and I had to learn that the hard way. Making the most of my opportunities is awesome. … It was a tight angle, but I just tried to connect and put it across goal. I was so happy when it went in.”
With a 1-0 lead on the board, the Rowdies attacked confidently, piling the pressure on New York. Walker, Georgi Hristov and Shane Hill all had fantastic scoring chances in the minutes that followed Savage’s goal, but the Rowdies were unable to score again in the first half, carrying the one-goal advantage into the locker room at halftime.
New York forward Mads Stokkelien had a golden opportunity to equalize for the Cosmos late in the half when Sebastian Guenzatti’s shot was blocked and fell right to him with space to score. He blasted his shot well over the crossbar and the threat was ended.
The Rowdies doubled their lead in the 58th minute when defender Tamika Mkandawire scored his second goal in as many weeks. Midfielder Brian Shriver dribbled down the left flank and lofted a cross to the back post. Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer punched the ball to Mkandawire who hit a volley into the bottom left corner of Maurer's net.
Saturday night was Mkandawire’s first time playing the Rowdies-Cosmos rivalry.
“More important (than my goals), that’s back-to-back wins,” Mkandawire said. “Two big wins for us and six points on the board. I know the history between the two sides and it’s an honor to play for the Rowdies in such a big game and be part of their history. I’m delighted for the team, the fans and the club.”
After Mkandawire’s second goal, the Cosmos created their first two dangerous chances of the half in quick succession, both off of crosses from the right side. The first was cleared by defender J.P. Rodrigues on a slide tackle, the second was punched away by a diving Pickens.
New York got on the scoresheet in the 81st minute when two Cosmos substitutes combined with nice play on the top of the box. Hans Denissen played a through ball to fellow forward Stefan Dimitrov who clipped the ball past a charging Pickens and off of the far post into the net.
The Rowdies managed to withstand New York's late pressure and even increase their lead in stoppage time. Lucky Mkosana dribbled through the Cosmos box and slid the ball to Blake Wagner with enough space to shoot. Wagner made no mistake with his shot, drilling into the bottom corner.
The win was the Rowdies’ first against the Cosmos since May 26, 1984 and puts the Rowdies into one of the positions that qualify for The Championship.
“It’s a huge win for us,” Savage said. “It’s such a huge rivalry and they’re such a huge team. They have great players in Senna and Joseph Nane and others, so that’s a big win for us. Any three points is big, but this one, and in particular at home, feels good. It’s great for our fans.”
Rowdies: Keith Savage- 22nd minute (Assisted by Amani Walker)
Rowdies: Tamika Mkandawire- 58th minute
New York: Stefan Dimitrov- 81st minute (Assisted by Hans Denissen)
Rowdies: Blake Wagner- 90th minute
Rowdies: Pickens; Sanfilippo (c), Rodrigues, Mkandawire, Wallace; Shriver (Frimpong 66'), Russell, Hill, Savage (Wagner 83'); Walker (Mkosana 70'), Hristov
ROWDIES PICK UP HUGE ROAD WIN, BEATING CAROLINA 4-3
CARY, N.C. — The Tampa Bay Rowdies won a thriller at WakeMed Soccer Park on Saturday night, defeating the Carolina RailHawks 4-3 in dramatic fashion. Twice the Rowdies took a two-goal lead only for Carolina to make things interesting again.
“It was a tremendous effort from everybody, all 18 players that traveled,” Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. “I’m absolutely delighted for the guys. Carolina is a very difficult place to play.”
Rowdies forward Amani Walker got the party started early, controlling an inch-perfect through ball from Shane Hill and sliding it past RailHawks goalkeeper Scott Goodwin and just inside the far post to give the Rowdies the opening goal in the 3rd minute.
The Rowdies, not satisfied with the early lead, continued to pile on the pressure and were rewarded in the 10th minute.
Midfielder Keith Savage, celebrating his 29th birthday, delivered a free kick from the left flank into the six-yard box, where Tamika Mkandawire slammed it into the net with a powerful header to put the Rowdies up 2-0.
“It’s an unusual feat for us (having an early lead),” Ricky Hill said. “In the last eight games, we’ve been behind, so I was as surprised as anyone. Credit to the guys for the way they started the game. Today we got the reward with two quick goals.”
Still not satisfied, the Rowdies continued their hard work, with Walker, Brian Shriver and Georgi Hristov all receiving the ball in dangerous areas as the half progressed.
Carolina had back-to-back free kicks near Tampa Bay’s goal in the 35th and 38th minutes, but on both occasions, goalkeeper Matt Pickens made a diving save to deny Kupono Low’s shot.
The RailHawks started the second half the same way the Rowdies started the first.
Enzo Martinez supplied Zach Schilawski with a great entry ball into the box, which Schilawski tapped over Pickens and into the net to make the score 2-1 in the 48th minute.
Just three minutes later, Schilawski returned the favor, feeding Martinez for the equalizing goal in the 51st minute.
The match remained even at 2-2 until late in the second half when Ricky Hill made impactful substitutions. Lucky Mkosana entered the match in the 71st minute with Ricardo Morris joining him on the field in the 72nd.
In the 77th minute, Morris slid a low cross from the left flank into the six-yard box, where a sliding Mkosana redirected it into the net for a 3-2 lead.
Tampa Bay appeared to have sealed the win with an 84th minute goal when a saved shot bounced his way near the penalty spot and he rocketed it past Goodwin for a 4-2 lead, but the scoring wasn’t quite finished for the night.
Carolina’s Danny Berrera took a shot in the 86th minute that deflected off Rowdies defender JP Rodrigues and trickled over the line to make the score 4-3.
Immediately after that, Carolina defender Daniel Scott was shown a second yellow card and dismissed from the match and Tampa Bay was able to close out the match and earn all three points.
“To give away two goals right after halftime, a lot of times we team would be despondent and have our heads down,” Ricky Hill said. “We regrouped and got ourselves back together.”
Rowdies: Amani Walker - 3rd minute (assisted by Shane Hill)
Rowdies: Tamika Mkandawire - 10th minute (assisted by Keith Savage)
Carolina: Zack Schilawski - 48th minute (assisted by Enzo Martinez)
Carolina: Enzo Martinez - 51st minute (assisted by Zack Schilawski)
Rowdies: Lucky Mkosana - 77th minute (assisted by Ricardo Morris)
ROWDIES FALL 1-0 TO FORT LAUDERDALE STRIKERS IN FLORIDA DERBY
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The 2014 Coastal Cup winner will be determined at Al Lang Stadium on Sept. 27 following the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ 1-0 loss to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at Lockhart Stadium on Saturday night.
Former Rowdie Fafa Picault scored the game-winning goal in the 72nd minute and the Rowdies were unable to equalize.
“It’s hard to point out just one reason why we weren’t at our best tonight,” Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. “When you don’t start a game with any real urgency, you’re lulled into some lethargy. It seemed that way in the first half, in particular.”
The home-standing Strikers started the match much better than the Rowdies, pressing hard in the first 20 minutes with forwards Picault and Jenison Brito.
Just eight seconds into the half, Jenison raced through the Rowdies defense and fired a shot on goal, but Tampa Bay goalkeeper Matt Pickens made the first of his three saves in the period.
Picault put a header just over the crossbar in the 18th minute and he had another shot in the 32nd minute after James Marcelin backheeled a pass to him, but his shot didn’t have enough power to beat Pickens.
In the 37th minute, Georgi Hristov received a ball in the box and rounded Fort Lauderdale goalkeeper Kamil Contofalsky, but he was forced to the byline in the process and couldn’t get his shot on target.
The best chance of the half came in the 43rd minute when Hristov threaded a pass past the oncoming Contofalsky to Blake Wagner, but Wagner’s tap-in was wide of frame.
“At halftime, it was nil-nil I was fairly happy because I was convinced we would up our game in the second half,” Hill said. “That wasn’t the case. We were, in fact, worse. In general, we didn’t have any real cohesion and we weren’t able to keep enough possession in meaningful places to enable us to get a foot in the credit.”
Fort Lauderdale resumed its pressure at the start of the second half, nearly taking a lead in the 55th minute when Mkandawire deflected a Mark Anderson shot toward the side of goal Pickens had just dove from, but the ball dribbled wide of frame to keep the score even at 0-0.
Brian Shriver, inserted at halftime on the right wing, created some issues for the Strikers’ defense, but no Rowdies were able to score. Evans Frimpong and Ricardo Morris also entered the match in a double substitution in the 71st minute. It was Morris’ competitive debut for the Rowdies after signing for the club on July 25.
Just a minute later, Fort Lauderdale scored the only goal of the match.
Mark Anderson crossed a ball from the right wing and Martin Nunez’s shot caromed off the crossbar directly to Picault. Picault volleyed it first-time past Pickens and into the net to give the Strikers a lead.
The Rowdies were unable to equalize, meaning the Strikers remain in contention for the Coastal Cup.
“We’ve lost the last two in a row, which is something we desperately wanted to avoid in this second half of the season,” Hill said. “Now it’s up to us to arrest that trend with an important stretch of games coming up. I always stress that the guys make Saturday their best day, but on this Saturday, not enough had their best day."