CARY, NC. (Aug 18, 2012) – It was a crucial game for both teams on Saturday night as seventh place FC Edmonton faced the sixth place Carolina RailHawks at WakeMed Park. And the urgency was evident as the squads played an incredible 90-plus minutes of soccer.
It started off great for the visitors thanks to a wonder-strike by Paul Craig nine minutes in. Craig pounced on a defensive mistake and hit the ball first time with the outside of his foot, beating ‘keeper Akira Fitzgerald, making his first start in the NASL.
The Eddies seemed to grow in confidence after the goal and enjoyed the majority of possession halfway through the first period.
But it was Nick Zimmerman against the run of play who was able to pull the goal back in the 30th minute to draw the home team even.
The Carolina midfielder beat defender David Proctor on the run and took the shot himself, beating Lance Parker at the far post.
The RailHawks finished the half with three straight corners but the Eddies’ backline held firm and the score remained 1-1 at the whistle.
“It was a good start, an early goal is exactly what we wished for,” said head coach Harry Sinkgraven at the break. “We had some chances on the counter so we have to finish the chances. We have to continue what we’ve been doing and make more runs.”
Parker had to make a great save off a Carolina header to start the second half. The big ‘keeper was able to push the early chance over the bar to keep the score even.
Zack Schilawski could have put the RailHawks ahead in the 64th minute as his team kept the pressure on in the second half. The striker was able to touch a ball past a charging Parker but Paul Hamilton was there to defend the open goal.
Parker had to make another big save off the ensuing corner.
A fury of action in front of the Carolina goal minutes later nearly resulted in a go-ahead goal for the Eddies but Craig was unable to get a shot off from inside the box as the RailHawks closed down the lanes expertly.
Kyle Porter finally solved the RailHawks defence in the 72nd minute with a terrific left-footed shot which beat Fitzgerald to put the Eddies up 2-1.
But Schilawski wasn’t finished. The RailHawks striker was in the right place at the right time as David Proctor’s clearing attempt went off his chest and into the net, tying the game once again.
Zimmerman nearly sealed the victory for Carolina in the dying minutes but his goal was called on the offside.
But in injury time, Ty Shipalane cut through the FCE backline and scored the game-winner for the RailHawks, putting his team seven points ahead of the Eddies with just six games to go.
“We couldn’t make the tackle we needed and he punished us for it,” said FCE defender Paul Hamilton after the game. “You need to play the full 90 minutes and we didn’t tonight. We still have six games to go though and anything can happen.”
With the Edmonton loss, San Antonio can clinch a playoff spot with a win or tie tomorrow versus Tampa Bay.
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