Familiar face helps to defeat the Rowdies, 3-1

by Gary Shelton on April 24, 2016 · 0 comments

in general, Rowdies

Tampa Mkandawire moves the ball around Carolina./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Tampa Mkandawire moves the ball around Carolina./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

 Sunday, 6 a.m.

The game got away from the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Then again, so did the player.

Brian Shriver, the ex-Rowdie who grew up in Clearwater, stood in the penalty box. He looked at his old friend Matt Pickens in goal. He looked at the crowd in its green and yellow.

And then he drove home the clinching goal in the 86th minute to help the Carolina RailHawks take a 3-1 victory over the Rowdies. The game kept Carolina undefeated, and it left the Rowdies seven points behind and chasing.

“It's always big to score your first goal,” Shriver said. “Not because it was

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Matt Pickens wasn't as efficient as he has been this season./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Matt Pickens wasn't as efficient as he has been this season./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

against the Rowdies, but my friends and family were here, and it helped my team win.”

Shriver, a member of the Rowdies for the last two seasons, was let go by the team this off-season. He had an option to his contract, but the team chose to pursue other scorers.

It was a disappointing loss for the Rowdies, who had hoped to pull within one point. But a mental lapse just before halftime, and another just after, put Tampa Bay behind 2-0. Considering that the Rowdies have only three goals in four games, that's a tough place to be.

"It's never good to lose," Mkandawire said. "I thought we let ourselves down. We've got to be better in both boxes and make the most of our opportunities in front of goal. Both goals they had tonight, we gave them.

Rowdies' midfielder Kalif Alhassan kicks the ball in the first half./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Rowdies' midfielder Kalif Alhassan kicks the ball in the first half./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

We've got to clean it up and tighten up. For me, I think the penalty was very, very harsh. We controlled the play and we're disappointed not to make more of the opportunities we created."

Rowdies coach Stuart Campbell was terse. He talked of possible lineup changes afterward.

“You can say we played well,” he said. “But we lost. It wouldn't be fair to the other players (not to make changes).

"I'm very disappointed with the goals we conceded. Starting with the first one, we didn't apply enough pressure further up the field, which I asked for. They cut through us and we weren't marking tight enough in the area. There could have been two or three of them to tap it in."

The Rowdies did cut the lead to one goal when Mkandawire scored. Eight minutes later, Tommy Heinemann broke through. He was jostled as he shot but did not go down.

"I thought maybe Tommy was a little bit too honest because there was definite contact and he could have gone down," Campbell said. "I don't tell my players (to go down). There was contact in the area and Tommy could have gone down if he chose, but he chose to try and fight the guy off. Obviously, when he did that, he lost a yard of space that he had."

With four minutes left, Shriver drove home the clincher, leaving the Rowdies with one win, one loss and two draws.

Tampa Bay plays in Fort Lauderdale Saturday, then has a week off. The Rowdies' next home match in May 14 against Rayo OKC.

Georgi Hristov tries to find space against Carolina./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Georgi Hristov tries to find space against Carolina./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

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