By MIKE GRAMAJO
The Tampa Bay Rowdies took a 2-1 win against Ft. Lauderdale to open up the first-of-two Florida Derbies this season. The win, which not only secured Tampa a shared first-place spot in the NASL table, proved to be a pivotal bounce back after collapsing against Atlanta last week after leading 3-1 for much of the game.
Luke Mulholland opened up the scoring for the Rowdies right before halftime, striking in the 42nd minute which gave the Englishmen a league leading third goal.
“Taking three points out of a derby is a big accomplishment and I feel we deserved them tonight,” said Rowdies Head Coach Ricky Hill. “We were able to stay concentrated the entire 90 minutes and come out of here with a win.”
Alex Dixon would double the lead for the St. Petersburg side in the 78th minute after Georgi Hristov’s low cross from the left flank gave Dixon the chance to tap the ball towards the net. Ft. Lauderdale’s Walter Restrepo’s strike in the 80th minute would cut Tampa’s lead down to one.
A late Strikers push wasn’t enough as the Rowdies defense were able to withstand Ft. Lauderdale, who out-shot them 12-7, but it was the Rowdies who took the three points at Lockhart Stadium.
The Rowdies now join Minnesota United and Carolina RailHawks, who had a bye-week, at the summit of the NASL table.
Here’s more on week four action in the NASL:
MINNESOTA EDGES SILVERBACK IN FIVE-GOAL THRILLER
The Atlanta Silverbacks were part of yet another goal-fest match, however, this time their opponent won the shootout. Aaron Pitchkolan scored the game winner in Minnesota FC’s 3-2 victory. His long-range shot gave Minnesota a pivotal three points on the road, and helped them grab a share of first place in the NASL table with Tampa Bay and Carolina.
Milton Blanco opened the scoring for the home team, drilling a stunning free-kick goal towards the far corner to give Atlanta the lead. Six minutes later, Simone Bracallelo’s corner kick found Brian Kallman, who headed the ball home to tie things up.
The goal scoring only got more intense when a handball was called in Minnesota’s penalty area, only to have Atlanta’s Ruben Luna score the spot kick to give the Silverback a 2-1 lead and second goal of the season.
The second half would see Minnesota rally back from being down 2-1, scoring two goals in a matter of seven minutes. Bracallelo would tie for the visitors in the 54th minute, scoring a penalty kick after another handball was called, but this time it was in the Silverbacks penalty area. Aaron Pitchkolan would score the game winner seven minutes later.
EDMONTON BEATS SCORPIONS TO EARN FIRST WIN
Shaun Saiko’s penalty kick before the halftime mark insured FC Edmonton a 1-0 victory against visiting San Antonio and their first win of the NASL season.
“You’ve got to strike it with confidence and I feel like I’ve been playing well, so I wanted to take the penalty and make sure we got the three points today,” said Saiko. “You’ve just got to get the goalie going the other way and slot it to the other side.”
Edmonton’s Eddie Edward drew the penalty kick, being dropped down by San Antonio’s defense, which led to the only and breakthrough goal of the evening when Saiko sent Patrick Hannigan guessing the wrong way to convert the spot kick.
Both Edmonton and San Antonio along with Ft. Lauderdale were the only trio of clubs in the NASL to have yet to win a league match, but Edmonton looked to break that curse especially after having a couple rough matches last week.
“The guys wanted to win so badly that it probably affected our performance a little bit, but we’re delighted with the three points today,” said Edmonton manager Collin Miller
Edmonton look to gain momentum with the win as they play their second leg of the 2013 Amway Canadian Championship match against Vancouver on Wednesday and return back to NASL play on Saturday when they visit the defending champions Tampa Bay Rowdies.