FC Tampa Bay lost 2-1 to the Carolina RailHawks Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg. The win marked the sixth straight victory for Carolina and extended its unbeaten streak to nine.
After a scoreless first half, Carolina forward Etienne Barbara converted a penalty kick for his league-leading 12th goal of the year. Two minutes later, midfielder Nick Zimmerman put a header in the back of the net after a feed from Jonny Steele for a 2-0 RailHawks lead.
Barbara converted the penalty kick for Carolina after FCTB defender Takuya Yamada was called for a controversial foul.
"I think it was extremely harsh," said FC Tampa Bay head coach Ricky Hill. "There's no way there was enough physical contact to bring Barbara down. It's a very, very cheap penalty. But It is too late to do anything about it."
"I felt the side was playing very well at that time," said Hill. "And then the disappointing thing from there was that we conceded a second goal within a five-minute period, which we cannot do. We lost our concentration and it was a lack of mental focus."
Forward Mike Ambersley scored on a penalty kick in the 86th minute for FC Tampa Bay, his team-high third goal of the season. It also marked his second goal on a penalty kick following his first against Montreal on May 21 in a 3-0 FCTB victory.
The remaining minutes of the match resulted in three more shots for FC Tampa Bay but it could not complete the comeback.
The opportunities came early for FCTB beginning in the third minute with a shot from midfielder Tsuyoshi Yoshitake. Three minutes later forward Mike Ambersley sent a cross from the right side of the field to Yoshitake for a one-touch shot; this time deflected to forward Warren Ukah. Ukah managed the ball inside the 18-yard box turning towards the goal in traffic and taking the third shot of the match.
Carolina’s first offensive attack came in the eighth minute from forward Allan Russell, but FCTB goalkeeper Jeff Attinella tipped the ball over the top of the net clear of the goal.
Midfielder Mozzi Gyorio sent a FCTB corner kick to Ukah, whose shot was just high of the net in the 10th minute. Russell attempted a one-on-one for the RailHawks but Attinella came off of his line to meet the challenge and shut down the attack.
The RailHawks were awarded a free kick in the 28th minute between the corner of the 18-yard box and Carolina’s right attacking line. Attinella hurdled skyward, tipping the shot with his fingers and ultimately securing the ball.
FCTB had the best opportunity of the first half when Gyorio's free kick in the 45th minute bounced off the crossbar, but Carolina goalie Brad Knighton was able to corral the rebound after a few deflections. FC Tampa Bay had 14 shots total in the first half, while the RailHawks posted 11.
Defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe, on loan from the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer, made his debut with FC Tampa Bay on Saturday night.
FC Tampa Bay Lineup: GK Jeff Attinella, D Frankie Sanfilippo (Captain), D Kwame Watson-Siriboe, D David Hayes, D Takuya Yamada, M TsuyoshiYoshitake, M Pascal Millien, M Mozzi Gyorio, M Keith Savage, F Warren Ukah (Aaron King 71'), F Mike Ambersley
Carolina RailHawks Lineup: GK Brad Knighton, D Brad Rusin (Captain), D Kupono Low, D John Krause, M Floyd Franks, M Matt Watson (Cory Elenio 81'), M Chris Nurse, M Jonny Steele, F Etienne Barbara, F Allan Russell (Stephen Glass 56'), F Nick Zimmerman
CAR: Etienne Barbara - 63rd minute - penalty kick
CAR: Nick Zimmerman - 65th minute (assisted by Jonny Steele)
FCTB: Mike Ambersley - 86th minute - penalty kick
CAR: Matt Watson - 45+ minute
FCTB: David Hayes - 53rd minute
FCTB: Keith Savage - 66th minute
CAR: Kupono Low - 67th minute
FCTB: Warren Ukah - 68th minute
FCTB: Mike Ambersley - 82nd minute
FCTB: 22 shots (8 shots on goal), 7 saves, 12 fouls, 6 corners
CAR: 18 shots (10 shots on goal), 7 saves, 19 fouls, 3 corners