ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (July 23, 2017) — The Tampa Bay Rowdies made a statement Saturday night with a comprehensive 2-0 win over the Eastern Conference-leading Charleston Battery, bringing the Rowdies within four points of first place.
Here’s Three Things from the match…
1. Paterson continues his hot streak
Rowdies forward Martin Paterson scored his third goal in as many matches Saturday night as his form continues to surge in the second half of the season.
His goal against the Battery was his sixth in all competitions this season, but first that wasn’t scored with his first touch.
In the 69th minute, Paterson was on the receiving end of a perfect cross from Marcel Schäfer 15 yards out with his back to goal. Paterson took a touch to the inside to get around Battery defender and then rocketed a shot into the upper 90 with a beautiful finish.
Paterson’s hold-up play throughout the match should also be commended. He played an important role in the Rowdies’ first goal as well, holding the ball up long enough for Alex Morrell and Joe Cole to come into the play.
Having lost to Charleston twice already this year, Paterson was motivated to help the Rowdies win.
“They’re a good team,” Paterson said. “We respect them because they beat us twice, but we were adamant we were going to win tonight. (Against) good teams like them, you’ve got to put them away when you’ve got the opportunity. … It just goes to show that when we play well and we’re at it 100 percent, we can win. We need to start getting up the league now.”
2. The home dominance continues
Saturday night’s match was the first of a three-game home stand for the Rowdies, who will go on to host the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Harrisburg City Islanders in the next two weekends. As strong as the Rowdies have been at Al Lang this weekend, this stretch offers a great opportunity for Tampa Bay to pick up points and tighten things at the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
The Rowdies are now 7-2-1 (W-T-L) at home this season and unbeaten in six games. The only loss was a 3-2 decision to the Battery on April 22.
Of the top five teams in the East that are not the Rowdies, only the Charlotte Independence is yet to visit Al Lang. Charleston (1st place), Louisville (3rd place) and FC Cincinnati (5th place) have all come to St. Petersburg and been dealt 2-0 losses this season. Charlotte visits St. Pete on September 23 in the opening match of another three-game homestand.
3. Restrepo’s cameo
Rowdies winger Walter Restrepo signed with the team Thursday, participated in his first training session Friday and made a quick cameo with his new team Saturday, opening more than a few eyes with an impressive showing.
Restrepo relieved Martin Paterson in the 77th minute, taking up a position on the left wing in a match that was stretched end-to-end.
From the moment he stepped onto the field, Restrepo looked dangerous.
“I thought (Restrepo) did great,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “It’s extremely tough to come into this type of game where it’s end-to-end and they’re throwing numbers forward. I just felt with his speed and ability on the ball that he could cause them problems and he did.”