Despite being a man up for the game’s final 14 minutes, the Carolina RailHawks couldn’t find the winning tally on Saturday night, settling for a 1-1 draw with the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Tampa’s Georgi Hristov was sent off in the 76th minute after stepping on the back of Wells Thompson’s head. But Carolina had trouble making them pay. Much of the next 10 minutes were spent in Tampa’s attacking third.
“They got the red card and the first thing they got was a corner and then they pinned us back,” Carolina coach Colin Clarke said.
The RailHawks are now 1-1-3 (W-L-T) in the North American Soccer League.
Turning point: Tampa Bay (2-1-2) scored in the 19th minute and it seemed to fuel the Rowdies, who kept Carolina on its heels the rest of the first half.
They said it: “We survived the first half in some ways,” Carolina coach Colin Clarke said. “I felt like we didn’t have a good shape after those first 15 minutes.”
Three who mattered
Tiyi Shipalane, Carolina: The midfielder did his usual, creating good chances from the right side and garnering an early assist to Nacho Novo. Shipalane terrorized defender Ben Sweat on the first goal and then nutmegged him in the second half, drawing a foul in the process.
“Tiyi is fantastic, we should play more to him,” Novo said.
“He’s hurting their player, he’s making things happen; give him the ball,” Clarke said.
Nacho Novo, Carolina: After missing a game with injury, Novo did what he does – be the target man at the top of the formation and make good runs, like he did on his 6th minute goal from Shipalane. He’s still tied for first in the NASL goal department, with three in the four games he’s played in.
Kupono Low, Carolina: In a game where the rest of the back line had plenty of trouble, Low cleared the ball away with regularity.
▪ Carolina was fortunate to be tied at halftime after falling perhaps its worst defensive half of the season. Tampa’s tally in the 19th minute – a volley from former RailHawk Martin Nuñez on an assist from Georgi Hristov – was the only goal that went in, but two others missed by inches and three more attempts were saved off the line.
▪ There seems to be two patterns developing for Carolina; one bad and one good. The good is Shipalane taking over in the game’s first 30 minutes. The bad is the RailHawks allowing goals as teams push wide and cross into the box, which is loaded with dangerous areas.
▪ The RailHawks’ home attendance dipped for the third straight game as 4,042 were on hand for the Tampa match. Carolina drew 4,489 in the second home match and 5,190 in the season opener.