The Carolina RailHawks bowed out of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at the quarter final stage, suffering a 3-0 defeat away to a strong Real Salt Lake line up.
A superb finish by Tony Beltran earned the hosts a 1-0 halftime lead over the North American Soccer League leaders at Rio Tinto Stadium and a deflected shot by Chris Wingert five minutes after the break doubled the advantage. Alvaro Saborio added a third goal with a decisive near post header with six minutes remaining.
RailHawks coach Colin Clarke was without injured influential midfielder Ty Shipalane and rested league-leading scorer Brian Shriver and other first team starters with one eye on Saturdays home clash with the Atlanta Silverbacks. A RailHawks win this weekend would earn Carolina the NASL spring season championship and the right to host Soccer Bowl.
Shriver and the dangerous Cesar Elizondo were introduced from the bench just after the hour mark, but were unable to inspire a comeback and match earlier round wins over the Los Angeles Galaxy and CD Chivas USA.
The RailHawks were on the back foot for much of the game and Robbie Findley sent a speculative drive from 20 yards narrowly wide of the right hand post the Javier Morales fired a 25-yard free kick tamely over wall and the target.
The pressure paid dividends after 34 minutes when defender Beltran brought down a pass with a neat control and unleashed a right-footed finish that gave previously unbeatable keeper Akira Fitzgerald no chance.
Khari Stephenson came dangerously close from 25 yards and Findley saw a header well saved by Fitzgerald from a Morales cross then Beltran’s curling left-footed shot would have gone in at the far post but for a fingertip save by the impressive Fitzgerald.
Only five minutes after the break, Wingert’s shot was cruelly deflected past a stranded Fitzgerald, prompting the introduction of Shriver and Elizondo for Carolina.
Saborio was denied by the post before an Elizondo header fell well wide from a corner he had won in a rare RailHawks foray forward. Six minutes from time, Saborio put the result beyond doubt.
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