Pickens saves another game late for Rowdies

by Gary Shelton on August 7, 2016 · 0 comments

in Rowdies

Banner celebrates Keith Savage's 100th appearance./ERIC TILLOTSON

Banner celebrates Keith Savage's 100th appearance./ERIC TILLOTSON

Sunday, 5:30 a.m.

When things are going badly, when things are at the worst, the Tampa Bay Rowdies always have the Fort Lauderdale Strikers to rely on.

Take Saturday night, when the Rowdies won a 2-1 game to break a two game losing (and scoreless) streak. Tampa Bay has a 14-4-6 lead against their rival Strikers.

This one involved going ahead 2-0, then having goalkeeper Matt Pickens save a penalty kick against Adrianinho in the 89th minute. It was the second such save of the year for Pickens.

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Cole had an assist and a goal to lead Rowdies./ERIC TILLOTSON

Cole had an assist and a goal to lead Rowdies./ERIC TILLOTSON

"The pressure is on [the offensive players)," Pickens said of his philosophy on facing penalties. "They're the one who has to score. Sometimes you just need to make a save. When you overthink things you get into trouble sometimes. "

It was a save that prevented the game ending in a tie. Thing is, it isn't the first time Pickens has salvaged a game that way.

“It's got to be the hardest thing to do in pro sports,” said Keith Savage, who scored the first goal. “And how many times has he done it? We just have to thank him.”

Savage gave the Rowdies a 1-0 lead just after halftime, taking a cross from Joe Cole that sailed over everyone and landed, pretty much, on his foot.

"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."

Up a pair of goals, the match nearly slipped away from the Rowdies.

"Two-nil is probably the worst score you can have in professional football," Rowdies coach Stu 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.

Only a few minutes later, Tamika Mkandawire was whistled for a handball and the Strikers were awarded a penalty shot. Pickens correctly dove to his left-hand side to deny Adrianinho's spot kick and preserve the Rowdies' lead.

“It's fun. Just like them scoring a goal. Ultimate high. But I can't go running around and celebrate to the fans . I'll just stay in my goal."

Said Campbell: “He done great. It's not the first time I've stood here singing his praises. He's a great character, he's a great professional and he came up big for us.”

The Rowdies second goal came on a nice pass from Georgi Hristov to Joe Cole.

The Rowdies are on the road the next two weeks, playing New York and Minnesota. The Rowdies have a three-game road losing streak.

The player known as "PC" got his first action for the Rowdies./ERIC TILLOTSON

The player known as "PC" got his first action for the Rowdies./ERIC TILLOTSON

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