Photo by Rob Kinnan / Carolina RailHawks
By AARON CRANFORD
CARY, N.C. — While Carolina RailHawks forward Nacho Novo continues to shine in 2015, the Tampa Bay Rowdies remained strong and resilient to force a 1-1 draw in front of 4,042 fans at WakeMed Soccer Park.
After sitting out the previous two games for the RailHawks with a nagging groin injury, Novo took little time to find his scoring boots as he grabbed his third of the season. He is tied with San Antonio Scorpions forward Omar Cummings for the league lead. He was quick to point the finger, though, at Tiyi Shipalane, who made the play happen.
“I think we should play more out to him,” Novo told reporters after the draw. “I think we made one pass over, and he made that one-on-one, and this where the goal is coming from, but then after, we just stopped playing for him. From what I watch, we should play more on him, sharper, so he can get one-on-one because always he’s looked dangerous.”
The Rowdies found the equalizer almost 10 minutes after Novo’s opening goal when Georgi Hristov combined with Martin Nunez, who drilled the ball into the back of the net. Although both sides created a flurry of chances for themselves, neither could find a second on the night.
Late in the second half, Hristov was sent packing after receiving a straight red card. The assist-man looked to step on the head of RailHawks midfielder Wells Thompson. Wven with the one-man advantage, the Cary side could not find the crucial game-winner at home.
The opening goal started from Shipalane, who used a couple of step-overs in the sixth minute to beat his man on the right. After flying into the penalty area, his low-driven cross found none other than Novo around the six-yard box for the lead.
“Even Nacho (Novo) probably was not at 100 percent,” RailHawks head coach Colin Clarke said at WakeMed Soccer park, “but I felt that he was good enough to go for what he would give us, and you watch the first goal, I thought Ty (Shipalane) was superb, not only beating the player but then he’s showed composure to pick his head up. Nacho’s done a little bit of movement to free himself up, and he was able to pick him out.”
The Rowdies’ response was immediate. In the 15th minute, Maicon Santos, who scored a brace in the Rowdies’ 3-2 win last weekend, blasted an effort off of the crossbar and back out into play.
The in-form Rowdies didn’t take much longer to find their goal. Martin Nunez scored a one-timer in the box after Hristov whipped in a cross from the right in the 19th minute. Maicon Santos almost headed in the second in the seven minutes later, but his effort deflected just wide.
Tampa Bay’s best chance to take the first-half lead came in the 33rd minute, as Santos, Stefan Antonijevic and Hristov all had chances to score. Last-ditch defending and a save by RailHawks goalkeeper Hunter Gilstrap kept the scoreline level.
The second half saw Hristov sent off, and the RailHawks almost capitalized on the advantage in the dying moments of the game. However, the Rai;lHawks weren’t combining well to the liking of head coach Clarke, who wanted to see players feed Shipalane more on the night.
“You give the ball to Ty five, ten minutes in, and he goes past the guy and he gets across and picks Novo out, one-nil, and he never give the ball to Ty for another 35 minutes,” Clarke said. “That’s disappointing. Get it to him, give it to him. You have to read those situations where he’s hurting their player, he’s creating stuff, you give him the ball.”
Kamil Contofalsky preserved the draw, with the keeper quickly diving to left to prevent the RailHawks from taking all three points.
“At the end of the day, happy to get out of here with 1-1 having to play 15 minutes plus without Georgi (Hristov),” Rowdies head coach Thomas Rongen said after the match. “Not happy with the way he took his red card, very unprofessional and not enough discipline.
The RailHawks head to Texas next Saturday to meet the San Antonio Scorpions. The Rowdies visit Ottawa Fury FC on the same day.