Late Heroics from Hristov Gives Rowdies 2-1 Victory over Indy Eleven
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Georgi Hristov scored in the 89th minute to lead the Tampa Bay Rowdies to a very late win in front of a hostile sellout crowd in Indianapolis, as the Rowdies beat the Indy Eleven 2-1 on Saturday night.
Hristov’s game-winning goal was set up by second-half substitute Brian Shriver on the right wing. Shriver rounded his defender and spotted Hristov making a run toward the net. He crossed it in and Hristov tapped it in from about six yards out, emphatically kicking it into the roof of the net.
“We’re delighted to come away with all three points,” Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. “This is a fantastic atmosphere and Indy gave it a real go in the second half. Credit to our back four and the whole team for the shape that we managed to keep for the whole game. We created one or two clean-cut chances that we weren’t able to convert. The substitutes came on ready to play and had an impact straight away.”
The Rowdies dominated much of the play in the first half against the Indy Eleven, but found themselves down 1-0 after a superb Kleberson strike from distance in the 38th minute. Three minutes later, Casey Townsend erased the deficit with a goal of his own to send the match into halftime even at 1-1.
The Rowdies controlled much of the possession early on, with Shane Hill and Georgi Hristov each recording shots in the five first minutes. In the 10th minute, the Rowdies’ thrusts forward continued, with Tampa Bay earning a series of three corner kicks.
The match started to even out 25 minutes in, but Darel Russell and Lucky Mkosana both managed looks on goal as the 30 minute mark came and went.
Kleberson’s 25-yard goal was set up nicely by winger Blake Smith, who pulled the ball back from the byline and found Kleberson in enough space to shoot.
Down 1-0, the Rowdies kept their composure.
In the 41st minute, Darel Russell charged forward with the ball at his feet and shot from about eight yards out, beating Indy goalkeeper Kristian Nicht, but his shot caromed softly off the post and dribbled across the face of goal. Townsend seized the opportunity and scored to pull the Rowdies even.
“Russell ran around three or four defender and shot it in,” Townsend said. “Everyone thought it was going in, so they stopped. Their defenders stopped playing and I didn’t. I just tapped it in. That’s what I’m here for; that was a poacher’s goal. Those are what I’m here to get.”
The second half didn’t feature as many great scoring chances, though Indy controlled most of the second 45 minutes. The Eleven tallied eight shots on target, but Tampa Bay goalkeeper Matt Pickens played superbly in net to limit Indy to one goal.
Evans Frimpong and Brian Shriver were inserted into the match in the 70th minute, with Frimpong taking position on the left side, opposite Shriver on the right. Tampa Bay’s final substitution saw Amani Walker make his 2014 NASL debut in place on Townsend in the 82nd minute.
With the left side of Indy’s defense worn down from Mkosana’s efforts down the flank for more than an hour, Shriver had plenty of space to play.
“I could tell that Lucky had run at him all game when I got him,” Shriver said. “I just tried to go at him and create some chances. (Russell) slid me the ball and I looked up and tried to hit the ball behind the defenders. Georgi made a great run and just first-timed it into the back of the net.”
It was Hristov’s team-leading fifth goal of the season.
“I’m happy I scored the goal, but I’m happier that we won the game,” Hristov said. “We didn’t stop working until the last second of the game, just like last week. I’m happier about the win than my goal. I think we were the better team on the night.”
Now, the Rowdies return to St. Petersburg, to meet the San Antonio Scorpions on Saturday, July 26 at Al Lang Stadium.
“The objective is to win games and get three points,” Ricky Hill said. “We’ve played two games and we’ve gotten three points on each occasion. That’s fantastic, but next week is another game.”
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Indy Eleven: Kleberson - 38th minute (Assisted by Blake Smith)
Tampa Bay: Casey Townsend - 43rd minute
Tampa Bay: Georgi Hristov - 89th minute (Assisted by Brian Shriver)
Tampa Bay: Georgi Hristov - 45th minute
ROWDIES XI (4-4-2): GK Matt Pickens; D Frankie Sanfilippo (Captain), D JP Rodrigues, D Tamika Mkandawire, D Anthony Wallace; M Lucky Mkosana (Evans Frimpong 75'), M Shane Hill, M Darel Russell, M Blake Wagner (Brian Shriver 75'); F Casey Townsend (Amani Walker 85'), F Georgi Hristov
INDY XI (4-4-2): GK Kristian Nicht (Captain); D Andrew Stone, D Erick Norales, D Chris Estridge, D Jaime Frias; M AJ Corrado (Don Smart 75'), M Kleberson, M Victor Pineda (Sergio Peña 72'), M Blake Smith; F Mike Ambersley (Dylan Mares 90'), F Ben Spencer