RECAP | Fury FC 2, Rowdies 2

Darwin Espinal equalizes late to earn Tampa Bay a draw
Tampa Bay Rowdies Staff | Aug 29, 2015

The Tampa Bay Rowdies showed some fight on the road, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to earn a 2-2 draw against the Ottawa Fury FC at TD Place on Saturday night.

Goals from Tamika Mkandawire in the first half and Darwin Espinal in the 87th minute earned the Rowdies a road point in first-place Ottawa’s stadium.

“They gave 100 percent and that’s all I want them to do,” Stuart Campbell said. “I don’t think there are many teams that could come from 2-nil down in Ottawa and nick a point. It’s a credit to the guys that I’m disappointed to just take one point from this match. When you’ve been on the run we’ve been on, you’re not going to win three- or four-nil, you have to turn things around step by step and this was a great step forward.”

Ottawa’s Paulo Junior put the hosts ahead in the 18th minute and Oliver doubled the lead in the 31st, but the Rowdies didn’t give up. Tamika Mkandawire capitalized on a mad scramble in the box in the 33rd minute for a quick reply. Tampa Bay dominated the second half from start to finish, but had to wait nearly the full 45 minutes for its reward.

The Rowdies dominated possession in the second half and constantly threatened Ottawa’s net.

In the 52nd minute, Rowdies forward Maicon Santos received a through ball from Richard Menjivar and drew contact near the end line. The penalty shout was denied, but Santos still managed to put the ball toward the goal, only to be cleared from the near post.

Two minutes later, Santos blasted a shot from 27 yards out that looked goal-bound before bending wide at the last moment to miss by a few inches of Ottawa goalkeeper Romauld Peiser’s left-hand post.

Darwin Espinal and Brian Shriver both entered off the bench in the second half, increasing the pressure. In the 72nd minute, Espinal’s right-footed cross from the left side nearly connected with Santos for the game-tying goal, but again, the Rowdies came up just inches short.

With five minutes remaining in regulation, Hristov and Shriver performed a cheeky set piece that resulted in a Menjivar header being cleared off the line by Ottawa defender Colin Falvey.

Seconds later, Shriver perfectly placed a cross to the back post to an unmarked Hristov, but Peiser made the reflex save from point blank range on Hristov’s first-timed shot toward the roof of the net.

Finally, the pressure caused Fury FC to break in the 87th minute.

After a Tampa Bay corner kick was partially cleared, Juan Guerra played the ball back into the box to towering Stefan Antonijevic, who nodded it over to Espinal for the shot through Peiser’s legs for the long-overdue equalizing goal, Espinal’s third of the season.

“Even though we were losing 2-1 for a long time, I wanted us to stay patient, stick to our principles and find a way back into the match,” Campbell said. “We did that and I think it worked. It feels great getting a point in the manner that we did, but I know for a fact that when we watch video of this match, we’re going to be frustrated we didn’t win.”

Tampa Bay had only earned two points all season from matches in which it conceded the opening goal, but claimed a third point in dramatic fashion.

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