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FC Tampa Bay defeated the Atlanta Silverbacks 3-2 Sunday night at Al Lang Stadium as forward Aaron King scored the game-winner in the 86th minute as he volleyed a perfect cross from defender Frankie Sanfilippo into the back of the net.
"It was excellent to finish out that game in front of a great crowd tonight," said King. "I think our attack is getting stronger by the week and I feel like we have good things to come."
Forward Mike Ambersley gave FCTB a 1-0 lead with a goal in the 31st minute off a beautiful cross from midfielder Tsuyoshi Yoshitake. The goal was his team-high fourth of the year.
A repeat performance by Yoshitake and Ambersley seemed likely two minutes later but Atlanta goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer made the save for the Silverbacks this time.
Atlanta answered right back as defender Willie Hunt connected in the 34th minute with the assist going to Ciaran O'Brien as Atlanta was awarded a free kick five yards shy of the midfield in FCTB territory. It was Hunt's second goal in two matches at Al Lang Stadium this season against FC Tampa Bay.
"It feels good first of all to get the win," said Ambersley. "Three points at home is a definite must now and I'm happy for King getting his first goal of the year. He deserves it."
After the teams went to the locker room tied at 1-1, the Silverbacks had an opportunity to take the lead when they were awarded a penalty kick in the 50th minute. But FC Tampa Bay goalkeeper Jeff Attinella soared to his right to save O'Brien's penalty kick to keep the match tied at 1-1.
Moments later, FC Tampa Bay regained the lead as Ambersley deposited a rebound off Maurer into the back of the net in the 54th minute for his second goal of the match and a 2-1 advantage. It marked his third goal against the Silverbacks this season and increased his team lead to five goals in 2011.
O'Brien earned his second assist of the match when he had the first touch of a free kick to midfielder Jordan Davis, who scored past Attinella in the 64th minute, to tie the game at 2-2.
FC Tampa Bay had a golden opportunity to take the lead once again when Yoshitake was taken down by Atlanta defender Shane Moroney in the box in the 70th minute. But Maurer stopped the attempt by Ambersley to preserve the tie.
But the tie would be broken with the minutes winding down on the clock as second half substitute King gave FC Tampa Bay its third and final lead of the game with his volley.
The fans remained on edge at Al Lang Stadium for the final moments of the match as the Silverbacks desperately tried to reconcile the score, sending all of their players in on a corner kick and Atlanta’s last offensive attempt. FCTB held off the Silverbacks for the win.
"The victory is very important for the confidence of the players and it was great to get the three points tonight," said head coach Ricky Hill. "But I do hope we can defend better outside our box. I think we can work a little bit harder as a team to deny our opponents the time and space to put balls in our box."
FC Tampa Bay returns to action this Saturday, June 18 when it travels to Carolina for the start of a two-game road trip. Kickoff at WakeMed Soccer Park is 7:00 p.m. and can be seen live online here at www.fctampabay.com.
FC Tampa Bay Lineup: GK Jeff Attinella, D Frankie Sanfilippo (Captain), D Kwame Watson-Siriboe, D Andres Arango (Shane Hill 81'), D David Hayes, M Pascal Millien, M Keith Savage (Mozzi Gyorio 75'), M Tsuyoshi Yoshitake, M Takuya Yamada, F Warren Ukah (Aaron King 71'), F Mike Ambersley
Atlanta Silverbacks Lineup: GK Jimmy Maurer, D Shane Moroney (Jose Parada 88'), D Tyler Ruthven, D Willie Hunt, D Patrick Robertson (Kohei Matsushita 68'), M Lucas Paulini (Captain), M Ciaran O'Brien, M Jordan Davis, M Mattias Schnorf, F Junior Sandoval, F Matt Horth (Moussa Toure 77')
FCTB: Mike Ambersley - 31st minute (assisted by Tsuyoshi Yoshitake)
ATL: Willie Hunt - 34th minute (assisted by Ciaran O'Brien)
FCTB: Mike Ambersley - 54th minute
ATL: Jordan Davis - 64th minute (assisted by Ciaran O'Brien)
FCTB: Aaron King - 86th minute (assisted by Frankie Sanfilippo)
FCTB: Warren Ukah - 45th+ minute
FCTB: Andres Arango - 55th minute
FCTB: David Hayes - 65th minute
ATL: Moussa Toure - 83rd minute
FCTB: 28 shots (14 shots on goal), 3 saves, 21 fouls, 6 corners
ATL: 14 shots (5 shots on goal), 14 saves, 10 fouls, 2 corners