The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Carolina RailHawks are tied 0-0 at the end of the first half in Al Lang Stadium. The Rowdies start their quest to retain the NASL Soccer Bowl Trophy at tonight’s home opener.
The reigning NASL Champions didn’t take long to show why they took the title home last year, pressuring the Carolina RailHawks from kickoff. Rowdies defender Jay Needham had two dangerous headers early on, with his second attempt in the 18th minute being called off for offside.
Midfielders Luke Mulholland and Evans Frimpong continuously fed the ball into the box looking for the attacking targets on the field. Mulholland came close to scoring the first goal of the season for the Rowdies in the 30th minute off a perfectly placed free kick.
RailHawks goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald was quick on his feet and punched the ball out for a corner kick. With the Rowdies dominating the first half, the last chance came in the 38th minute with a dangerous header from forward Amani Walker. Midfielder Raphael Cox delivered a great cross, but Walker’s header at the far post was tipped out by Fitzgerald.
“The only thing we haven’t done is put the ball in the net more than the once it was called offside,” said Rowdies coach Ricky Hill, whose club unveiled the 2012 championship banner before the game at Al Lang Stadium. I’m happy with how we’ve set our stall out and defensively we’re able to play further up the pitch.”
RailHawks coach Colin Clarke was less enthusiastic, saying: “Hopefully we’ll play better in the second half because so far we’ve been awful.”
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