BLAINE, Minn. – Etienne Barbara scored a goal for the fourth straight game, but the RailHawks were unable to protect a one-goal lead and had to settle for a 1-1 draw against Minnesota at the National Sports Center on Saturday night.
“Tonight was difficult game, played in tough weather with a very strong wind. It was never going to be a great game of passing and moving,” said RailHawks coach Martin Rennie. “We did well in the first half under a lot of pressure from Minnesota. So it is very disappointing that once we scored the goal, we didn’t manage to see the game out for a win.”
Barbara gave the RailHawks (2-1-1, seven points) a 1-0 lead in the 58th minute. Nick Zimmerman was pulled down in the penalty area and Barbara took the spot kick. Minnesota goalkeeper Joe Warren, who stopped four PKs in 2010, guessed correctly where Barbara was going, but the shot got by his outstretched hands.
With the goal, Barbara became the first player in club history to score a goal in four straight matches, and he’s tied atop the NASL in goals scored.
But the Stars answered just nine minutes later. In the 68th minute, Andrei Gotsmanov caused a turnover deep in the Carolina end, and he laid a ball off to Tino Nunez. Nunez played it on to Bracalello, who ripped a shot from 12 yards out that got past Carolina goalkeeper Brad Knighton to tie the game 1-1.
It was the lone blemish on an otherwise sterling night for the RailHawks’ defense. Carolina weathered the Stars’ relentless attack in the first half to keep the match scoreless, and after Knighton’s fingertip save of a Bracalello shot in the 50th minute, Minnesota’s attack went quiet.
While the RailHawks did not have their normal flair going forward, they had several strong scoring chances before and after Barbara’s PK.
In the 53rd minute, Brad Rusin’s header was saved by Warren.
In the 86th minute, Kupono Low served a ball in from 50 yards out that found John Krause unmarked at the edge of the six-yard box, but his header was saved by Warren, too.
In the 89th minute, Barbara and Chris Nurse led an odd-man rush on the Stars’ goal. In the final third, Barbara flicked the ball in for Nurse. Warren sprinted off his line to knock the ball down, and the Stars were able to squelch the attack.
The RailHawks not only lost their grasp on three points, they also lost forward Pablo Campos for the match’s final five minutes. Campos was shown a red card in the 84th minute following what looked more like a collision between he and Minnesota midfielder Lucas Rodriguez than a reckless challenge. Nevertheless, he was sent off.
The RailHawks will look to extend their three-match unbeaten when they remain on the road for a second straight match. They will travel to Florida on May 7 to face Tampa Bay before returning to WakeMed Soccer Park on May 11 to face the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers.
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