The Tampa Bay Rowdies managed to increase their unbeaten run to six matches but were left frustrated more than anything else in a 1-1 draw with the Charleston Battery on Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium. Leo Fernandes struck for Tampa Bay in the first half, tallying a goal for the third-straight match and his fifth overall this year.
The second half, there was real frustration there,” said Rowdies Assistant Coach Jon Stead, who filled in for Head Coach Neill Collins on Saturday while Collins was away from the team continuing his UEFA Pro License course.
“That (frustration) was plain to see for not just the coaching staff but the players as well. We’ve just got to be better, better on the ball, better in key areas of the pitch. We were way off it in the second half and that’s the real frustration.”
Jake LaCava came inches away from lifting the Rowdies to an early lead in the 10th minute. Midfielder Lewis Hilton intercepted a pass in midfield and drove forward before laying a pass off for LaCava, who curled a shot past keeper Hugo Fauroux but directly into the crossbar.
Fernandes finally willed the Rowdies into the lead in the 34th minute. Receiving a pass from Laurence Wyke, Fernandes fought off a few defenders to maintain possession and propel the attack forward. As he neared Charleston’s box, Fernandes launched a low strike past the outstretched fingertips of Fauroux and into the bottom right corner of goal.
Just six minutes later, Fernandes probed the visitors’ goal with a left-footed free kick 25 yards from goal that forced Fauroux into a diving save. Wing back Sebastian Dalgaard then tested Charleston’s keeper seconds before the halftime whistle, drilling a strike on target that Fauroux got just enough on to tip over the bar.
Charleston found its equalizer through leading scorer Augustine Williams in the 63rd minute when Andrew Booth unlocked the back line with a lofted ball to Romario Piggott in the box. Piggot collected the service and calmly centered for Williams in front of goal to convert.
The scoring sequence was Chalreston’s only shot on target out of six attempts on the night. Meanwhile, the Rowdies took guided 5 shots on frame out of 14 attempts.
Tampa Bay had one more promising opportunity deep into stoppage time, as LaCava was sprung inside the box for a chance on goal. Fauroux did well, though, to shut down the Rowdies attacker’s angle at the near post and clear the ball from danger.
Next Saturday the Rowdies travel to face Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. They then return home on July 2 to take on Memphis 901 FC, followed by a post-match Independence Day fireworks show.
TBR – Fernandes, 34th minute
CHS – Williams, 63rd minute
TBR: Cochran; Vancaeyezeele, Wyke, Guillen; Antley, Hilton, Ekra, Dalgaard; Fernandes, Mkosana, LaCava
CHS: Fauroux; Sheldon, Archer, Kilwien, Paterson; Booth, Schmidt; Cichero, Piggot, Harmon; Williams