FC Tampa Bay knocked off the English Premier League's Bolton Wanderers 1-0 Thursday night at Al Lang Stadium. FC Tampa Bay scored in the second half on a goal by forward Matt Clare in the 65th minute.
The performance was especially impressive for FC Tampa Bay considering it played without several starters, including injured midfielders Chad Burt, Takuya Yamada and Tsuyoshi Yoshitake. In addition, FCTB was forced to play an unsigned trialist and defender Justin Morrow played 38 minutes after landing in Tampa less than 12 hours before the match.
"I hope that match gives our team the world of confidence, and that starts collectively with hard work and application," said head coach Ricky Hill. "Tonight was a great opportunity for our team. To win the game is a great bonus. We're indebted to our goalkeepers at times. Evan was tremendous this evening and Jeff likewise."
The match was the first-ever international friendly at home for FC Tampa Bay and marked the first match in a three-game preseason tour for Bolton here in the United States.
"We knew it would be demanding physically," said Bolton manager Owen Coyle. "Tampa Bay scored a very good goal. Credit to them. I thought they worked their socks off. I felt the game was played in the right spirit, the right atmosphere."
During a scoreless first half, the pace of the match seemed to waver between long crosses and few attempts on the goal. The Wanderers stepped up the tempo of play in the second half and FC Tampa Bay picked up the pace as well.
Hill brought midfielder Pascal Millien on as a substitute in the 62nd minute and the move paid immediate dividends as he assisted on Clare's goal with a cross to the forward.
Rookie goalkeeper Jeff Attinella shut out Bolton in the first half before being replaced by Evan Newton for the final 45 minutes, with Newton making several big stops to preserve the victory. Newton had six saves in his first action with FC Tampa Bay.
"Obviously I hope we gave them our best," said Attinella. "We definitely wanted to come out here and play hard. I feel like we played well, tested them and held our own for the most part. Hopefully a game like this gains some respect for the NASL. We can compete with teams and I think we just proved it tonight."
FC Tampa Bay begins a two-game road trip this Sunday, July 17 when it faces FC Edmonton at 6:00 p.m. at Foote Field.
FCTB: Matt Clare - 65th minute (assisted by Pascal Millien)
FCTB: Matt Clare - 85th minute
FC Tampa Bay Lineup: GK Jeff Attinella (Evan Newton 45'), D Frankie Sanfilippo (Captain), D Andres Arango, D Kwame Watson-Siriboe (Justin Morrow 62'), D JP Rodrigues, M Shane Hill (Pascal Millien 62'), M Mozzi Gyorio, M Keith Savage, M David Hayes, F Mike Ambersley (Ebere Goodluck 83'), F Aaron King (Matt Clare 62')
Bolton Wanderers Lineup: GK Jussi Jaaskelainen (Adam Bogdan 45'), D Gretar Steinsson (Mark Connolly 74'), D Paul Robinson (Marcus Alonso 45'), D Gary Cahill, D Zat Knight (David Wheater 45'), M Matthew Taylor (Martin Petrov 45'), M Mark Davies (Ricardo Gardner 45'), M Darren Pratley (Fabrice Muamba 45'), M Chung-Yong Lee (Tope Obadeyi 74'), F Kevin Davies - Captain (Tom Eaves 74'), F Ivan Klasnic (Robbie Blake 45')
FCTB: 10 shots (7 shots on goal), 9 saves, 14 fouls, 3 corners
BWFC: 14 shots (10 shots on goal), 6 saves, 16 fouls, 4 corners