The Carolina RailHawks moved to the top of the NASL standings with a 3-1 victory over the winless Fort Lauderdale Strikers at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Two first half penalties earned a 2-1 interval lead and Brian Shriver made the game safe with a second half strike.
“It’s what we know we’re capable of and some of the play in the second half was pretty special,” said RailHawks coach Colin Clarke. “We could have scored a couple more goals, but we will take 3-1.
“The defenders were good tonight and we knew that they were a good team and were able to pass around us in the first half, but then we were able to force them into mistakes in the second half and score. Its fun to watch and I know for them its fun to play in and they’ve had a great game tonight.”
The Strikers had taken the lead after only eight minutes when Jemal Johnson received the ball on the edge of the area from Pecka and had time to turn and fire his finish past the despairing grasp of keeper Akira Fitzgerald. The home keeper had been sharp to deny Stefan Dimitrov after two minutes of play, but had no answer to Johnson’s finish.
A minute before Fort Lauderdale went in front, Franks had charged through middle as the visiting defenders backed off and was allowed to shoot from 25 yards out and his rising shot cannoned off the cross bar.
David Foley directed a diving header straight at Fitzgerald before Carolina started to press and Ty Shipalane, Zack Schilawski and Nick Millington all failed to apply a finishing touch after Shriver had played a teasing ball into the middle.
The half swung in the RailHawks’ favor in the 25th minute when an Austin Da Luz shot was handled and despite the ball ending up in the net a penalty was awarded. Skipper Franks sent keeper Matt Glaeser the wrong way to level the score then after 33 minutes after a push in the box by Toni Stahl, Shriver stepped up to take an identical penalty, to earn a 2-1 lead.
The RailHawks moved into what turned out to be a decisive 3-1 lead 12 minutes after the interval when a Shipalane cross found Shriver, whose shot was not cleared and the striker claimed the rebound and his second goal of the NASL season.
“That was probably the best half of soccer we have put together so far and it was fun to play in,” said Shriver. “If we can now get a point on the road it will be great and three will be even better. We need to take all the points we can here at home.”
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|Minnesota United FC||14||6||2||6||2||20|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||14||5||3||6||-2||18|
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|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||12||2||2||8||-14||8|