ST. PETERSBURG — The Tampa Bay Rowdies fell 2-0 to Ottawa Fury FC on a frustrating Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium.
The Rowdies’ ultra-offensive lineup pressured Ottawa goalkeeper Romuald Peiser for much of the night, but couldn’t find a way onto the scoresheet. Oliver’s 25th minute goal and Sinisa Ubiparipovic’s stoppage time insurance goal earned all three points for Ottawa.
“At this stage of the season, with the limited number of games that we have (left,) every point is vital,” Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said. “Congratulations to Ottawa. They were very organized and solid in what they wanted to do and they were very disciplined as a team.”
Despite the loss, the Rowdies remain in third place in the NASL Fall Season Standings, level on 16 points with the New York Cosmos, but with a game in hand. The Rowdies are five points behind first-place Minnesota United FC. In the NASL Combined Standings, the Rowdies are one point behind the Carolina RailHawks for fourth place and a spot in The Championship, but have played one fewer match.
Lucky Mkosana entered the starting lineup for the first time since August 2 as Hill fielded a forward-thinking starting XI. Mkosana played down the left wing, opposite Evans Frimpong on the right.
Both sides started the match poorly, but it was the visitors that struck first, with Nicki Paterson serving in a cross from the left wing that found Oliver’s head at the back post. Oliver thundered his header past Pickens and into the net for a 1-0 Fury lead in the 25th minute.
As the half progressed, the Rowdies started to play themselves into the match, with Brian Shriver and Georgi Hristov combining well in the final third. Tampa Bay pressured Romuald Peiser in Ottawa’s net, but the Rowdies were unable to find the equalizer before halftime.
“In the first half, we created a few good looks,” Hill said. “Our conviction in front of goal needs to be a lot better. You can never fault players for missing goals, but you have to believe you’re going to score, first and foremost. That’s half the battle. Tonight, although we huffed and puffed and created a number of looks at the goal, and on another occasion, we warranted more than a goal, it didn’t happen. We have to ensure as a team that we don’t get scored against.”
The second half was more of the same as the Rowdies pushed forward in search of a goal.
In the 50th minute, midfielder Darel Russell slid a pass through Ottawa’s defense, finding Brian Shriver as he looped around an Ottawa defender, but his shot was just wide of net.
Shriver blasted a shot on goal in the 62nd minute, but Peiser made one of his seven saves on the night to preserve Ottawa’s lead.
Ricky Hill adjusted his lineup in the 68th minute, sending Ricardo Morris and Casey Townsend into the match to try and grab the equalizing goal. Those two connected just four minutes later, with Townsend heading a ball down for Morris in front of net, but Morris’ first-time effort rolled wide of Peiser’s left-hand post.
Morris was at the center of the Rowdies attack once again in the 76th minute, feeding Hristov in toward net, but Peiser abandoned his line quickly and scooped the ball up off the penalty spot.
Amani Walker was inserted into Tampa Bay’s attack in the 83rd minute as the Rowdies desperately pushed to salvage a result.
With the match stretched out, Ottawa’s Sinisa Ubiparipovic raced past the Rowdies defense and fired past Matt Pickens to give Fury FC a 2-0 lead in stoppage time.
Next, the Rowdies travel northwest to visit FC Edmonton on Sunday, Sept. 21 before returning home for back-to-back home matches against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers on Sept. 27 and FC Edmonton on Oct. 4. The winner of the 2014 Coastal Cup will be decided on Sept. 27. For tickets, click here.
Ottawa: Oliver - 25th minute (Assisted by Ramon Soria)
Ottawa: Sinisa Ubiparipovic - 90+' minute (Assisted by Vini Dantas)
Ottawa: Oliver- 67th minute
Tampa Bay: Anthony Wallace- 67th minute
Ottawa: Sinisa Ubiparipovic- 74th minute
Rowdies XI (4-4-2): GK Matt Pickens; D Willie Hunt, JP Rodrigues, Tamika Mkandawire (c), Anthony Wallace; M Evans Frimpong (Casey Townsend 68'), Shane Hill, Darel Russell, Lucky Mkosana (Ricardo Morris 68'); F Brian Shriver (Amani Walker 83'), Georgi Hristov
Ottawa Fury FC XI (4-3-3): GK Romuald Peiser; D Drew Beckie, Omar Jarun (Phillippe Davies 46'), Mason Trafford, Ramon Soria; M Tony Donatelli, Ritchie Ryan (c), Nicki Paterson; F Oliver (SInisa Ubiparipovic 71'), Tom Heinemann (Vini Dantas 85'), Pierre-Rudolph Mayard
Following this match, the Rowdies return to Canada to visit FC Edmonton at Clarke Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 21 before returning home for a critical home games on back-to-back weekends against the rival Fort Lauderdale Strikers and FC Edmonton on Sept. 27 and Oct. 4, respectively. The winner of the 2014 Coastal Cup will be determined on Sept. 27. For tickets to either of those matches, click here.
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