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Rowdies Earn First Win Of The Season With 1-0 Victory Over Scorpions

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SAN ANTONIO, Tex. — A Shane Hill goal in the 51st minute spurred the Tampa Bay Rowdies on to a 1-0 win over the San Antonio Scorpions at Toyota Field on a cool Saturday night.

Hill's goal, assisted by Keith Savage, gave the Rowdies their first win of the 2014 NASL Season.

Tampa Bay survived the 77th minute dismissal of Blake Wagner for a second yellow card and held on earn the three points.

"Well played by everyone on our team," Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. "I thought throughout the evening that Frankie Sanfilippo, Shane Hill, Matt Pickens, really everyone throughout the side turned in a good performance, but those three really put a decent shift in."

Shane Hill's goal was created by spectacular team buildup. Evans Frimpong crossed in a ball from the right wing which just barely passed over the head of a lunging Georgi Hristov. Savage, waiting on the left edge of the box, calmly collected and considered his options before slotting the ball to Hill near the arc. Hill one-timed it low to the right of San Antonio goalkeeper David Bingham for his first goal of the season. It was also Savage's first assist.

Wagner's dismissal threatened to turn the tide of the match late in the second half, but Ricky Hill made a 79th minute substitution that stabilized the ship, inserting JP Rodrigues to fill in for Wagner.

"Credit goes to all the squad members," Ricky Hill said. "It's difficult when you're not selected in the starting lineup, but the guys are a fantastic group and they're all engaged from the bench in willing the guys on. JP came on, he must have been disappointed that he wasn't starting, but Blake got sent off and we had to make an adjustment. JP came in as a left back and he was straight into the pace of the game because he was focused on the bench. He gave us a lovely performance."

San Antonio had a period of sustained pressure after the dismissal, created mainly by speedy winger Sainey Touray, but at every calling, Pickens  and the Rowdies' makeshift backline was there to divert the ball just enough to keep the Rowdies' first clean sheet of the season.

"(That win) shows a lot of character from our guys," Pickens said. "We were coming off a game where we gave up a lot of goals at home. We were all disappointed with our start of the season. We go up a goal tonight and then go down a man, but the guys dug in and showed the kind of character we have. Defensively, we needed that zero on the board in tough circumstances. We battled. That's our first win of the season and we're not going to downplay it. This is a big win for us."

Willie Hunt and Keith Savage were included in the starting XI for the first time this year. Hunt assumed the right back role, with  Sanfilippo moving to center back. Savage started on the left side of midfield.

The Scorpions had the better of the chances in the first half, spurred on by the work of Shaun Saiko down the left flank. San Antonio had numerous moves into the Rowdies’ 18-yard box, but couldn’t manage to record many real scoring chances, apart from a Saiko header that was pushed wide by Tampa Bay goalkeeper Matt Pickens.

Pickens had a fantastic performance, making several crucial saves in the second half. In the 73rd minute, Scorpions forward Sainey Touray had a clear chance to equalize as he flew into the box, but Pickens got a glove to Touray's shot and popped it high enough in the air for Sanfilippo to race back and clear it away. Minutes later, Touray had another chance to score one-on-one against Pickens, but the goalkeeper was in the right spot to catch Touray's shot and preserve the lead.

Next, the Rowdies continue their roadtrip, visiting Ottawa Fury FC in the Canadian capital city before returning home for a set of blockbuster home matches against the New York Cosmos on May 17 and Fort Lauderdale Strikers on May 24. A fireworks display will follow both of those matches and a $20 “May Madness” package includes a ticket to both matches and can be purchased by calling (877) ROWDIES.

Scoring Summary
Tampa Bay: Shane Hill - 51st minute (assisted by Keith Savage)

Caution Summary
Tampa Bay: Blake Wagner - 33rd minute
San Antonio: Adrian Cann - 35th minute
Tampa Bay: Keith Savage - 57th minute
Tampa Bay: Blake Wagner - 77th minute (Second Yellow - Red Card)
Tampa Bay: Matt Pickens - 84th minute
San Antonio: Sainey Touray - 88th minute

Starting Lineups
Rowdies XI (4-4-2):
 GK Matt Pickens; D Willie Hunt, D Frankie Sanfilippo (c), D Takuya Yamada, D Blake Wagner; M Evans Frimpong (Christophe Lallet 65'), M Shane Hill, M Darel Russell, M Keith Savage; F Brian Shriver (Lucky Mkosana 49'), F Georgi Hristov (JP Rodrigues 79')

Scorpions XI (4-3-3): GK David Bingham; D Stephen DeRoux, D Greg Janicki, D Adrian Cann (c), D Jonathan Borrajo (Josue Soto 67'); M Shaun Saiko (Sainey Touray 58'), M Julius James, M Richard Menjivar; F Walter Restrepo, F Eric Hassli (Sam Garza 77'), F Danny Barrera

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