The Tampa Bay Rowdies returned the win column on Saturday with an assured 1-0 victory over Detroit City FC at Keyworth Stadium. Midfielder Charlie Dennis converted from the penalty spot to secure all three points for Tampa Bay.
As vital as the win was for the Rowdies after three straight defeats in league, it was equally the performance the squad put in that Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins found encouraging.
“It’s easier when you’ve won three points to say this, but I think that anyone that knows us will say that was a very good performance in very difficult conditions,” said Collins. “In terms of the environment you come to here in Detroit, but also our third game in seven days… All in all a fantastic performance. Really the only thing that was missing was more goals. Had we not come away with three points it would have been hard to swallow considering I thought it was a totally dominant performance.”
The Rowdies started the match brightly and maintained a high level of intensity throughout the first half. Dayonn Harris registered the first effort on target of the match in the 27th minute, rifling a low strike from outside the box on frame to force keeper Nathan Steinwascher into a diving save. JJ Williams kept the pressure on just a few seconds later with a header from the center of the box that had the keeper beat but rattle the right post to stay in play.
Detroit’s only attempt on target of the match did not come until the 47th minute when Abdoulaye Diop sent a long range shot through a crowd right into the arms of Rowdies keeper Connor Sparrow.
Harris again probed Detroit’s goal in the 58th minute, blasting a high strike that Steinwasher could only parry to the far post. Rowdies newcomer Ryan Spaulding was in the area looking for the rebound, but Detroit’s Michael Bryant did well to clear the ball from danger.
Dennis was denied a go-ahead goal for Tampa Bay in the 72nd minute. A quick passing exchange with substitute Sebastian Dalgaard freed Dennis in the box, but Steinwascher produced a terrific save to deny the midfielder from point-blank range.
However, Dennis would not be stymied from the penalty spot in the 79th minute. After a cross from Dalgaard drew a handball foul by Devon Amoo-Mensah, Dennis stepped up and calmly deposited his attempt down the middle as Steinwasher dove to his left.
“The last two performances have really been what we expected from him,” said Collins. “His work rate was fantastic, but his quality as well. Him and JJ worked really well together. I’m pleased he got the goal his performance deserved. If he keeps up that intensity he’s got the quality to produce some great moments.”
Detroit had one last gasp at salvaging a point from the match in the dying moments. In the second minute of stoppage time, a Detroit corner was sent into the box and Skage Lehland managed to control the rebound and slam a shot directly into the crossbar.
Apart from Lehland’s stoppage-time strike, the Rowdies completely shut out their hosts.
“The players had a determination to carry out the game plan,” said Collins. “They were so focused on doing everything we asked them to do. I’m glad they got the reward from that. They just played with intensity. Intensity of focus, and an intensity of work rate. I thought that gave us a great foothold in the game.
Next up, the Rowdies are back at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday May 6 to host Phoenix Rising FC. Tickets for the match can be purchased here or by calling the Rowdies sales office during normal business hours at 727-222-2000.
TBR – Charlie Dennis, 79th minute
TBR: Sparrow, Antley, Kleemann, Lasso, Guillen, Doherty, Herivaux (Ekra, 61′), Dennis, Spaulding, Harris (Dalgaard, 61′), Williams
DET: Steinwascher, Amoo-Mensah, Carroll, Bryant, Fischer (Williams, 83′), Billhardt (Ballard, 83″), Rodriguez, Diop, Rutz (Godard, 88′), Matthews (Lehland, 63′), Morris