CARY — When the final whistle sounded, Carolina RailHawks coach Martin Rennie made a beeline toward the group of four referees gathered at midfield. He ranted, pointed at his watch and shook his head in disbelief.
His squad was up one goal with injury time dwindling down. And then, everything changed. The referee called a hand ball on RailHawks forward Sallieu Bundu in the penalty area. Montreal Impact midfielder Tony Donatelli converted the penalty kick, and the game ended in a 2-2 tie.
Rennie not only disagreed with the penalty call, but he thought the three minutes of injury time had passed.
"I have never seen anything like it," Rennie said. "In my mind that is blatant cheating. In my mind, he is trying to make them score, and in the end he did and that affected the outcome."
Instead of getting three points for a win, the RailHawks (3-2-6, 15 points) had to settle for one against the Impact (4-3-5, 17 points). And the 2,157 fans on hand at WakeMed Park witnessed another tie.
The RailHawks, who are in third place behind the Impact in the NASL division, have not won at home since the first game of the season.
After a quiet first half for the RailHawks - they had only one shot to seven for Montreal - the teams went into the half at 0-0. But action picked up in the second half when Rennie put midfielder Josh Gardner and Bundu in the game in the 59th minute.
Bundu scored on a header on his first touch of the game to put the RailHawks up 1-0 just two minutes after he stepped onto the field. Gardner then caused a yellow card when he fed Daniel Paladini in front of the net. Impact defender Patrick Leduc received a yellow card, and Floyd Franks put the ball in the back of the net on the penalty kick.
In a game where the ending will haunt Rennie - he said he plans on filing a complaint with the league - he recognized the strong play of his substitutes.
"Bundu helped us keep possession, and that made a big difference," Rennie said. "Josh looked lively, and he linked up well with Daniel. We played pretty well."
The Impact cut the lead to 2-1 in the 75th minute on Simon Gatti's goal to set up the scene at the end of the game.
But RailHawks captain Mark Schulte tried to ignore the referee and focus on what his team could have controlled.
"Whatever anybody says about the ref, we still had an opportunity to do it, and I am disappointed with us at this point," Schulte said. "At home we need to be winning games like this, not crumbling in the last two minutes."
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