Photo courtesy Matt May / Tampa Bay Rowdies
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Rowdies handed the Charleston Battery their second consecutive defeat as goals either side of halftime by Joe Cole and Martin Paterson earned a 2-0 victory at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday night. Lagos Kunga almost opened the scoring for the Battery (10-4-5, 35pts) in the 12th minute as his curling shot went just wide of the left post from 20 yards, and both teams pushed forward in search of the opening goal in an attacking opening half. The Rowdies (8-5-7, 31pts) twice went close around the half-hour mark as Joe Cole fired just high and wide from the right side of the penalty area, and Martin Paterson forced an excellent save from Charleston’s Alex Tambakis, but Cole gave the hosts the lead in the 40th minute as he tapped home after good work by Paterson and Alex Morrell to get into the penalty area. Tampa Bay’s Marcel Schäfer flashed a shot just high two minutes into the second half, and Georgi Hristov also hit the woodwork in the 66th minute. Three minutes later, the Rowdies had a two-goal advantage as Schäfer found Paterson inside the penalty area, and his turning shot found the top-right corner of the net. The Battery tried to rally late, and Justin Portillo almost gave the visitors hope with a free kick with four minutes to go that went just high, but the Rowdies held on to extend their undefeated streak to three games.
40’ – TBR – Joe Cole (Alex Morrell)
69’ – TBR – Martin Paterson (Marcel Schäfer)
Three Things That Matter:
1. The Rowdies recorded their first win against the Battery this season, and made the race for position at the top of the USL Eastern Conference a lot more interesting, with a victory that avenged the only home defeat Tampa Bay had suffered this season. As with their win against FC Cincinnati just over two weeks ago, the Rowdies took their chances at the right times to give themselves the boosts they needed to ensure a win, and close the gap on Charleston at the top of the top of the conference standings.
2. Former Northern Ireland international Martin Paterson took a little time to adapt to his new surroundings, but the striker now has three goals in his last three games and is showing how clinical he can be given an opening. Similar to his finish that opened the scoring against Cincinnati in the Rowdies’ last home game, Paterson’s instinctive finish after controlling with his back to goal gave the goalkeeper little chance to save, and provided the cushion all home teams value.
3. The Battery weren’t short on chances of their own, but had difficulty finding space against the Rowdies defense that blocked seven shots on the night to clamp down on the visiting attack. Now in their first two-game losing streak of the season, the Battery will go to Pittsburgh for a midweek clash that will offer the chance to right the ship as they look to maintain the hold they’ve had on top spot in the Eastern Conference for much of the season.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Marcel Schäfer, Tampa Bay Rowdies – Schäfer was integral to much of the Rowdies’ strong attacking play, recording an assist, creating two other chances, and finishing with four shots overall.
Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds – July 29, 7:30 p.m. ET, Al Lang Stadium
Charleston Battery at Pittsburgh Riverhounds – July 26, 7 p.m. ET, Highmark Stadium