ST PETERSBURG, FL (August 25, 2012) – The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Puerto Rico Islanders played to a scoreless draw at Al Lang Stadium in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday night.
Jeff Attinella earned his eighth shutout of the season and his 13th career shutout. Tampa Bay is now undefeated in six of its last seven league matches, including three wins. The Rowdies are unbeaten in their last eight at home, including five wins.
“This shutout was big for us, especially after last week’s loss,” said Attinella. “We know we needed the win, but we’ll take the draw any how and hopefully go down to ft Lauderdale and take that series. The back four played very well tonight, and as a goalie I felt very confident with them in front of me.”
The Rowdies pushed to get on the scoreboard early on in the fourth minute, as forward Fafa Picault headed the ball towards the goal but it was cleared off the line by Puerto Rico’s defense.
Tampa Bay continued to pressure the Islanders goal, and in the 11th minute midfielder Luke Mulholland picked up a rebound from 12 yards out, but his shot hit the crossbar and went out of play.
The Islanders got their first chance in the 19th minute. Puerto Rico forward Hector Ramos was closing in on goal when Rowdies defender JP Rodrigues made an impressive diving challenge sending the ball out for a corner kick.
In the 27th minute, Rowdies midfielder Evans Frimpong was taken down in the penalty box by defender Christian Ibeagha. The penalty kick was taken by forward Mike Ambersley but the shot was saved by goalkeeper Richard Martin with a diving save to his right.
Rowdies goalkeeper Jeff Attinella came up big in the 35th minute, when midfielder Gregory Richardson took a shot from 18 yards out. Attinella made a great save, sending the ball out for a corner kick.
Tampa Bay had the last chance of the half in the 44th minute, as Picault powered a header wide left from six yards out.
“We were close on occasions but we didn’t get those opportunities to drop for us,” said Rowdies head coach Ricky Hill. “I felt the performance and mentality of our players deserved more than one point, but we need to score goals to take those three points. We tried to break down their compact defense, but they maintained their concentration throughout the match and we didn’t get that much needed goal.”
Minutes into the second half, Picault delivered a great cross, but it was inches away from a diving Frimpong at the far post.
The Rowdies came close to scoring after Mulholland was brought down at the edge of the box in the 78th minute. His free kick went off the wall, and Martin came up with a save. The ensuing rebound was cleared out for a corner kick by the Puerto Rico defense.
“We are still even with them in the standings which is a positive note,” commented Ambersley. “We would have liked to have won this match especially at home, but now we have to regroup and look forward to picking up the three points in Ft. Lauderdale. We’re a bit off in our final third and it is affecting our scoring but we will be working hard to find that cohesiveness and score next Saturday.”
The Rowdies travel to play the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers for the final regular season meeting between the clubs on Saturday, September 1 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.