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Rowdies Rue Missed Chances vs. Rhinos

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 06/11/17, 10:22AM EDT


Tampa Bay’s third consecutive draw sees side lose ground to Battery

Photo courtesy Matt May / Tampa Bay Rowdies

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Rowdies knew just what to expect from the visiting Rochester Rhinos, whose tight defense had held firm to earn victory when the sides met last month at Capelli Sport Stadium.

But despite holding more than two-thirds of the possession, and finishing with 15 total shots, the Rowdies were again left without a win as the Rhinos earned a 1-1 draw at Al Lang Stadium in front of a crowd of 6,026 fans.

“They’re an extremely hard-working team that defends for their lives,” said Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell. “We actually created quite a few chances tonight, in fairness. We just couldn’t finish them off. We had a couple of really good ones that we have to score.”

As positively as Tampa Bay began, it fell behind on home turf for a second consecutive contest. Jochen Graf outhustled Rowdies defender Neill Collins to a hopeful ball forward by Wal Fall, and did just enough to get his effort past Matt Pickens for a 1-0 lead in the fifth minute.

It was the sort of mental lapse the Rowdies could ill-afford against a Rhinos side that has been typically good when taking a lead, but the Rowdies responded well and got back on level terms in the 19th minute. The side’s two former internationals combined to produce when a good move down the left released Marcel Schafer for a precise cross that was turned home by Joe Cole at the near post.

From there, though, the Rowdies were left frustrated by a Rhinos’ midfield and defense that hunkered down as the visitors looked to hit on the counterattack. The Rowdies produced a major chance on the hour-mark as a good passing move led by Keith Savage – who completed 68 of 75 passes on the night – released Cole into the left side of the penalty area. The former England international’s shot appeared it would have beaten Rhinos goalkeeper Tomas Gomez, but slid agonizingly wide of the right post.

Photo courtesy Matt May / Tampa Bay Rowdies

For all their late pressure, though, it was the Rhinos that almost snatched three points away. Pickens had to come up with a big save to deny Graf his second of the night, and Brandon Beresford had two good opportunities that went begging for the visitors.

With the side now winless in its last four games, and going to visit a Richmond Kickers side next Saturday that despite its struggles in attack has been solid defensively throughout the season, the Rowdies need to regain their scoring touch if they want to remain in the Eastern Conference’s top two. The side not only lost ground on Eastern Conference-leader the Charleston Battery on Saturday, but may start to feel pressure from either Louisville City FC or the New York Red Bulls II by the end of Sunday’s action.

“We didn’t take our chances right there at the end,” said Cole. “It’s not something new, we need to be better at breaking teams down.”

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