- Theme Parks
- Walt Disney World
- Vacation Tips
The Tampa Bay Rowdies are back to winning ways after a deserved 2-1 victory over rivals Fort Lauderdale Strikers on Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium.
Keith Savage and Joe Cole scored the goals for the Rowdies and Matt Pickens made another clutch penalty save in the second half to keep Fort Lauderdale behind and help the Rowdies earn all three points. Jose Angulo scored the Strikers’ lone goal.
With the win, the Rowdies have clinched their season series over the Strikers with a game to spare, beating Fort Lauderdale twice in two matches so far in 2016.
“I’m definitely pleased with the result,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “After two tough losses on the road, it’s not going to be pretty. You want to come and win three or four-nil, but it’s not like that. You’ve got to grind out a result. The players showed great character tonight. We asked for it before the match and they delivered.”
Playing in front of a home crowd of 4,997, the Rowdies looked sharp in the first half but ultimately followed a familiar script.
As has been the case so many times this season, Tampa Bay dominated possession and play, but failed to convert and take a lead in the first 45 minutes.
With the match still scoreless as the second half kicked off, the Rowdies finally started to turn their domination on the field into domination on the scoreboard.
Savage, making his 100th appearance in Rowdies colors, opened the scoring in the 50th minute, receiving a cross from Joe Cole and smashing it off the underside of the crossbar and into the net for his first goal in nearly two calendar years.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” Savage said. “The stars aligned and it was meant to be. … I couldn’t believe it came to me. It’s fortunate because I just kind of stood there and it came right to my left foot. I’m thankful it went in.”
Eight minutes later, Cole got himself onto the scoresheet.
Cole played Hristov a ball into the box and then made a charging run to the penalty spot. Hristov spotted the run and found Cole 18 yards from goal for a first-time shot past Fort Lauderdale goalkeeper Bruno and into the net for a 2-0 lead. A lead that the Rowdies nearly allowed to slip away.
“Two-nil is probably the worst score you can have in professional football,” Campbell said. “Subconsciously, you probably think it’s game over and the opposition really has nothing to lose. They got that one goal and you could see the massive amount of pressure we were under.”
Fort Lauderdale found a lifeline on Angulo’s goal in the 71st minute which cut the Rowdies’ lead in half.
Just a few minutes later, Tamika Mkandawire was whistled for a handball and the Strikers were awarded a penalty kick. Pickens dove to his left-hand side to deny Adrianinho’s spot kick and preserve the Rowdies’ lead.
Pickens was called upon again in the 89th minute to deny Angulo from point-blank range for his fifth and final save of the night to get the Rowdies back in the win column.
“The pressure is on (the kicker),” Pickens said of his philosophy on facing penalties. “They’re the one that has to score. Sometimes you just need to make a save. When you overthink things you get into trouble sometimes. It’s fun (saving penalties). It’s like a forward scoring a goal, it’s the ultimate high. But I can’t run around and celebrate with the fans or anything. I just have to stand in my goal.”
Up next, the Rowdies head to New York to face another rival, the Cosmos, next Saturday night.
Rowdies (4-3-3): GK Matt Pickens; D Darnell King, D Tamika Mkandawire (c), Neill Collins, D Walter Ramirez; M Martin Vingaard, M Joe Cole, M Keith Savage (Juan Guerra 85′); F Eric Avila, F Carlos Preciado (Tommy Heinemann 82′), F Georgi Hristov (PC 78′)
Strikers (4-2-3-1): GK Bruno; D Nana Attakora, D Gale Agbossoumonde (c), D Julius James, D Jorge Luis Corrales; M Manny Gonzalez (Bryan Arguez 85′), M Luis Felipe Fernandes; M Geison Moura (Jose Angulo 57′), M Ramon Nunez (Adrianinho 70′), M Paulo Junior; F Maicon Santos
More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com