ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 28, 2012) - The Tampa Bay Rowdies knock out the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers 3-1 as the teams resumed their long-standing rivalry Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium.
Midfielder Keith Savage sent a perfect cross to the far post to forward Matt Clare, who deposited it in the bottom corner of the net for his first goal of the year in the 27th minute. Clare also scored against the Strikers in the final game of the 2011 regular season, a 2-0 Tampa Bay victory on September 24 in St. Petersburg.
“I saw the defender start squeezing in a little bit because the ball was on the far side, so I made my run in and I just pulled out behind him,” said Clare. “Keith placed a great ball, made a good run and timed it well and I put the ball in the back of the net."
The Strikers opened the second half applying pressure on the Rowdies in search of the equalizer. In the 56th minute Attinella made a great diving stop on a powerful strike by Strikers defender Emelio Orozco.
“Mentally it’s important for most players to know that were going to face this type of onslaught, even at home at times and definitely on the road,” said Rowdies Head Coach Ricky Hill. “If we manage to score the first goal, then teams will become a little bit more desperate as the game goes on. They will throw more players forward and throw more balls forward as the game goes on. So it is important that our back four and the midfield in particular are very strong and that they are focused and that they try to clear their lines as best as they can.”
In the 61st minute, forward Luke Mulholland was taken down in the box by a Strikers player, giving the Rowdies a penalty kick. Forward Mike Ambersley converted the penalty kick in the 62nd minute, scoring in the bottom left corner of the net for a 2-0 Tampa Bay lead. It was Ambersley's first goal of the year and gave him 10 points on four goals and two assists in his last five matches against the Strikers.
In the 90th minute, Savage made it 3-1 after a great assist from Ambersley. Savage recieved a pass from Ambersley, who had already eluded the Strikers goalkeeper Matt Glaeser, and his shot hit the bottom right of the net for the goal.
“That win felt better than beating anyone. Hopefully we continue going forward and keep this streak up,” said Savage.
The Rowdies remain undefeated at home in the 2012 season. With the 3-1 win, Tampa Bay has outscored Ft. Lauderdale 12-4 in the last five matches in the series.
"They were just better than us tonight and got the result they deserved," said Strikers head coach Daryl Shore. "We can't make excuses and we have to regroup because we have another game on Wednesday."
Fort Lauderdale travels to Carolina for a Wednesday night clash. The Rowdies play a home-and-home with San Antonio the next two weekends, beginning with a road contest at the Scorpions on Saturday, May 5, followed by a home match against San Antonio at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday, May 12.
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