ST. PETERSBURG, FL – The Tampa Bay Rowdies conceded deep into second half stoppage time to fall 2-1 to the Charleston Battery at Al Lang Stadium on Wednesday night.
“I thought in the last five, ten minutes, we looked like the team that was gonna win the game,” said Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins. “…When some players look back some of the mistakes, they’ll kick themselves and we got punished.”
Tampa Bay took the lead in the 26th minute through an advantageous bounce of the ball. Charleston defender Leland Archer played a pass back toward his own net from way out. The service took a bounce before it reached keeper Trey Muse, who misjudged his touch and watched it roll past him after ricocheting off his shin.
Charleston came close to leveling the match only a few minutes after the own goal, but an effort from Tristian Trager in the box hit the near post.
The Rowdies came out the halftime break on the front foot and created a couple promising moments in the final third. Forward Felix Schröter and Ariel Martinez forced the visitors into a turnover in the box, yet Schröter’s final pass to Martinez in front of goal was off the mark. Moments later, Cal Jennings set Schröter up for an opportunity but the striker’s left-footed attempt was saved by Muse.
Charleston made the Rowdies pay for the missed chances. A well-worked passing sequence down the left wing paved the way for Trager to slip a through ball into Tampa Bay’s box for Augi Williams, who slotted a shot past Rowdies keeper Connor Sparrow.
Defender Freedy Kleemann nearly put the Rowdies back up in the 75th minute, heading a free kick sent in by teammate Lewis Hilton on target only to see Muse tip the effort over at the last second.
As the Rowdies pushed to find a winning goal late in the match, Charleston caught them on the counter to bury the dagger. Arturo Ridriguez fed a well-weighted pass through to Williams at midfield. After pushing past Kleemann, WIlliams fired off a long-range shot to beat Sparrow, who had come out of his area in hopes of cutting off a breakaway toward goal.
“It’s a tough way to lose a game,” said Collins. “When we look back at (Charleston’s second goal, I think there’s multiple mistakes in there. It was very naïve. I think a lot of parts of our performances are quite naïve, even from some of our experienced guys, not just the new guys.”
The Rowdies are off this weekend. Their next match will be a west coast road trip to face San Diego Loyal SC on Sunday, April 23 at 6 p.m. ET.
TBR – Muse (Own Goal), 26’
CHS – Williams (Trager), 50’
CHS – Williams (Rodriguez), 90+4’
TBR: Sparrow, Doherty, Kleemann, Guillen, Antley, Hilton, Ekra, Dalgaard, Martinez, Schroter, Jennings
CHS: Muse, Paterson, Wynne, Archer, Dodson, Polvara, Barajas, Markanich, Allan, Williams, Trager