The Tampa Bay Rowdies opened the scoring in the opening minutes of Saturday’s contest against the Charleston Battery at Patriots Point Soccer Complex, but the Green and Gold were the ones who found themselves on the losing end of a 2-1 result at the final whistle.
“A fantastic start to the game, a great opening goal,” said Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins. “After that, I think for the rest of the half. We gave up a lot of opportunities, which is very unlike us. We were second to the ball and slow to challenges… We really got what we deserved tonight out of the game. We could have salvaged something in the end. A couple of subs came on and brought a lot more urgency, but it was just a very frustrating evening.”
Rowdies captain Sebastian Guenzatti helped the Rowdies start the night brightly, rising in the box to head home a cross sent in by Conner Antley in the 3rd minute. With the goal, Guenzatti now has registered 60 goals for the Rowdies, putting him in a tie with club legend Georgi Hristov for the Rowdies all-time scoring record.
Following Tampa Bay’s go-ahead goal, the hosts turned the tide of the match with a new found urgency. Andrew eventually leveled the match in the 22nd minute, hammering home a loose ball in Tampa Bay’s box.
Four minutes later, keeper CJ Cochran was called on to make a critical stop to deny Charleston a second. Cochran stretched out to his left to swat away a one-timed effort from Charleston’s leading scorer Augustine Williams.
The hosts found their winning goal in the 67th minute, though. A quick exchange of passes freed Booth for a run into the box and he capitalized with another finish into the back of the net.
“To get in at halftime 1-1 was a bit fortunate on our part,” said Collins. “CJ had a couple of great saves and Charleston missed a couple of great chances. I thought we regrouped well at the start of the second half and the game wasn’t really going anywhere. We weren’t doing particularly great, but they weren’t causing us the same problems. Then we lose a goal out of nothing.”
Tampa Bay inserted Dayonn Harris, Yann Ekra, Steevan Dos Santos, Kyle Greig, and Sebastian Dalgaard in hopes of finding an offensive spark. Dalggard did probe Charleston’s net twice in the dying minutes of the match, but keeper Hugo Faroux was up to the task both times.
“We just didn’t perform,” said Collins. “Unfortunately I’ve had to say that a couple times more recently than I’d like, so I need to get my finger on that. There’s still plenty of football to be played, still plenty of points to be played for but we can’t keep performing like that.”
The Rowdies sit third in the Eastern Conference standings after the loss to Charleston, six points back of first place Louisville City FC and one point behind second place Memphis 901 FC. Next up, the Rowdies travel to face Detroit City FC on Saturday, September 17 before heading home for a clash against Birmingham Legion FC on Friday, September 23. Tickets for the match can be purchased here or by calling the sales office at 727-222-2000.
TBR – Guenzatti, (Antley) 3′
CHS – Booth, 21′
CHS – Booth, 67′
TBR: Cochran; Wyke, Scarlett, Castellanos (Greig, 83′), Guillen; Antley (Harris, 74′), Hilton, Etou (Eka, 60′); LaCava (Dalgaard, 73′), Guenzatti, Fernandes (Dos Santos, 74′)
CHS: Fauroux; Sheldon, Archer, Paterson; Harmon, Kwakwa (Crawford, 67′), Piggot (Oduro, 83′), Flanagan (Hogan, 88′); Cichero (Apodaca, 66′), Williams, Booth