Sunday, 3 August 2014

Rowdies vs. Ft. Lauderdale Strikers

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."

Goal Summary:
Ft. Lauderdale: Fafa Picault - 72nd minute

Strikers: Čontofalský; King, Alves, Marcelin, Guerrero (Captain); Anderson (Perez 74'), Gonzalez, Chin, Nuñez (Ramirez 78'); Picault, Brito (Gordon 90')
Rowdies: Pickens; Sanfilippo (Captain), Rodrigues, Mkandawire, Wallace; Mkosana (Shriver 46'), Hill, Russell, Wagner (Frimpong 71'); Townsend (Morris 71'), Hristov

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