ST. PETERSBURG, FL – The Tampa Bay Rowdies took a point from Saturday’s matchup against Birmingham Legion FC at Al Lang Stadium. After conceding an early goal, Leo Fernandes answered for the Rowdies with a stellar strike to ensure the Rowdies took at least a point in a 1-1 result.
“Birmingham is a tough team. We have tight games against Birmingham. I thought we could have done better to have given ourselves more chances to win the game, but we equally could have lost it in transitions.”
Birmingham opened the scoring in the 10th minute off a counter attacker after the Rowdies threatened to score themselves. The visitors dealt with a dangerous ball sent in by Sebastian Dalgaard and quickly played the ball up the field. Conner Antley lost out in a 50-50 duel, allowing Juan Agudelo to stride down the field before laying a pass across the box for Marlon Santos to bury off of the crossbar.
The Rowdies responded seven minutes later in emphatic fashion. Finding Dalgaard in the center of the field, Fenrnandes continued his run to receive the ball back from Dalgaard and rifle the ball into the back of the net with the outside of his left boot.
Despite the early goals, the rest of the night turned into a defensive battle. In his first start in net for the Rowdies, keeper Phil Breno produced four saves for his side. Breno’s most impressive stop of the night came in the 37th minute. A well-weighted through ball sprung Alex Crognale into Tampa Bay’s box, and he took advantage with a low strike on frame but was denied with a kick save from Breno.
“I thought Phil did really well,” said Collins. “His distribution was good. It’s not easy coming in like that, but he did very well. I’m really pleased for Phil. He came in and did well, so that is a positive.”
Substitute Lucky Mkosana came on at the stoppage time and produced the best look at goal of the second half for the Rowdies. Mkosana redirected a well struck corner by Lewis Hilton on goal. His header appeared to have Van Oekel and the defense beat but the attempt took an inadvertent deflection of Rowdies midfielder Nicky Law to stay out.
“There were a couple occasions in the second half where if we make the final pass we’re in, but we didn’t make it. Birmingham defender well, but I think if we slip that final pass we would’ve gotten even more opportunities. It’s a glass half full or glass half empty type of night. I think we’ve gotta look at it as glass half full as long as we can learn the right lessons.”
With the result, the Rowdies remain even with Birmingham at 55 pts in the Eastern Conference standings. Memphis 901 FC improved to 61 points with a victory over first place Louisville City.
The Rowdies are back at Al Lang Stadium on Wednesday to face El Paso Locomotive FC at 8 pm ET. Tickets for the match can be purchased here.
BHM – Marlon, 10’
TBR – Fernandes (Dalgaard), 17’
TBR: Breno; Scarlett, C. Antley, Guillen; Dalgaard, Hilton, Wyke, Fernandes; Ekra, Dos Santos, Guenzatti
BHM: Van Oekel; Dean, Crognale, Kavita, Lopez; Asiedu, Herivaux; Marlon, Lapa, Martinez, Agudelo