Rowdies Fall 1-0 Against RailHawks
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rowdies were defeated 1-0 in the dying minutes by the visiting Carolina RailHawks on Saturday night in front of 4,212 fans at Al Lang Stadium.
Two weeks ago, on August 9, the Rowdies and RailHawks played the highest-scoring match in the NASL Fall Season, a 4-3 thriller in North Carolina. Saturday night’s match didn’t quite live up to that, but did feature drama with Tiyi Shipalane’s stoppage time goal dooming the Rowdies to defeat.
“There’s a lesson to be learned,” Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. “The game is 90-plus minutes. Irrespective of the dominance and whatever possession we’ve had, we didn’t maintain focus and concentration for that amount of time. I think anyone that was here would suggest that was a little bit of a smash-and-grab result.”
The Rowdies dominated possession, holding the ball for 72 percent of the match, and also posted more corner kicks (5 to 3) and shots (12 to 8,) but were missing their final touch on the night.
In the 15th minute, Tampa Bay forward Georgi Hristov had one of the better scoring chances of the half, finding space to shoot from a very tight angle, but his right-footed effort curled around the far post and out of play.
The Rowdies built another scoring chance in the 42nd minute, with Amani Walker finding Keith Savage in box, but Carolina goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald dove to save Savage’s low shot.
Ricky Hill made no changes to his starting lineup from last week’s win over the New York Cosmos, but was forced into an early substitution. Defender JP Rodrigues collided with Carolina’s Leo Osaki in the 20th minute and was forced out of the match. Willie Hunt replaced Rodrigues in the 24th minute. Osaki was able to stay in the match.
The Rowdies piled on the pressure in the second half, were unable to find a goal, being shutout for the first time since August 2.
Hristov raced into a one-on-one situation with Fitzgerald in the 79th minute, but Carolina’s goalkeeper fell to his right and pushed the ball away for a game-saving save to keep the scoreline unblemished.
In the 85th minute, Savage found Darel Russell for a leaping header, but Russell’s effort was wide of the net.
Four minutes later, Hunt rose to meet a corner kick with a header of his own, but, again, the shot was off target.
As the 90th minute elapsed, Carolina earned a corner kick that would lead to their game-winning goal. After bouncing around the box, the ball was controlled by RailHawks forward Daniel Jackson, who fed Shipalane for the match-winner in stoppage time.
“It’s disappointing in the manner of how they scored and the time they scored,” Hill said. “We’ve got to learn quickly. I’m not too displeased with our performance in general. I can’t be over critical of the guys in terms of the effort they’ve put in, but it’s disappointing that we haven’t come away with something.”
It was Shipalane’s seventh career goal against the Rowdies.
“It’s just the game of soccer,” Rowdies captain Frankie Sanfilippo said. “You can dominate the game for the whole 90 minutes, but the one opportunity they had, they put in. I don’t remember a time that (Rowdies goalkeeper Matt) Pickens was taking shots or was under the gun. It just hurts. It’s unfortunate that we played for 90 minutes and dominated, but they just had a silly opportunity and put it in.”
Now the Rowdies head on a two-week roadtrip with visits to Ottawa Fury FC on August 30 and league-leading Minnesota United FC on September 6 before returning home to face the Fury on September 13 at Al Lang Stadium. For tickets, click here.
Rowdies XI (4-4-2): GK Matt Pickens; D Frankie Sanfilippo (c), JP Rodrigues (Willie Hunt 24'), Tamika Mkandawire, Anthony Wallace; M Brian Shriver (Ricardo Morris 60'), Darel Russell, Shane Hill, Keith Savage; F Amani Walker (Lucky Mkosana 71'), Georgi Hristov
Carolina RailHawks XI (4-2-3-1): GK Akira Fitzgerald; D Jordan Graye, Connor Tobin, Daniel Scott, Kupono Low; M Jun Marques-Davidson (c), Leo Osaki (Nick Zimmerman 73'); M Tiyi Shipalane, Nazmi Albadawi (Enzo Martinez 79'), Danny Berrera; F Aaron King (Daniel Jackson 65')
Carolina: Leo Osaki - 71st minute
Carolina: Danny Barrera - 86th minute
Carolina: Tiyi Shipalane - 90+ minute (Assisted by Daniel Jackson)