The Carolina RailHawks produced a stunning comeback during stoppage time to grab a 2-1 victory from the jaws of defeat and take over at the top of the North American Soccer League standings.
Colin Clarke’s side trailed a 10-man Tampa Bay Rowdies team that was previously unbeaten away from home in four outings this season until substitute Cesar Elizondo headed home a deep Austin Da Luz cross with 90 minutes on the clock to equalize. Looking to preserve a perfect home record at WakeMed Soccer Park and claim pole position in the race to host Soccer Bowl 2013, the RailHawks then sent the home crowd wild with a winner four minutes into added time as Ti Shipalane fired home a composed finish that proved to be the late winner.
“It was fun to watch and entertaining for the crowd and it’s great to get three points,” said RailHawks coach Clarke. “Its unbelievable and the crowd will go home happy. There are four games left and they just get bigger and bigger and that’s why you play the game. Hopefully that will result in us having the Soccer Bowl back here in November.”
Ty Shipalane found an early opening for the RailHawks when freed by through ball from Nick Millington but was just unable to hit the right side of the target.
It was midfielder Luke Mulholland who created the first chance for the away team in the 18th minute. After midfielder Shane Hill played him the ball, Mulholland found space and fired a shot on goal. The strike was deflected by a Carolina defender, forcing goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald to make a save and send it out for a corner kick.
The speed of Shipalane and Ababio down the right flank were constant threats for the Rowdies defense, but for the first 30 minutes they were able to deny the RailHawks any scoring chances.
Shipalane was brought down outside the box by Arango the referee showed the Rowdies defender a red card in the 37th minute.
The ensuing free kick resulted in one of the RailHawks best scoring opportunities. Austin da Luz played a square ball to forward Brian Shriver, whose first time shot narrowly missed the top right corner of the Rowdies goal.
In the 78th minute with curling shot by Rowdies midfielder Keith Savage from outside the 18-yard box was denied by the right post. Luke Mulholland was able to pick up the rebound but his shot was deflected out for a corner kick.
Savage's effort seemed to give the Rowdies confidence, and it paid off as second-half substitute Devin Del Do scored the go-ahead goal in the 87th minute. Forward Amani Walker went up for a header and forced Carolina to misplay the ball, ending up at Del Do's feet. The forward was able to lob it over Fitzgerald and give the Rowdies the 1-0 lead.
Carolina had nothing to lose and went after the tying goal immediately. As the match entered stoppage time, a high cross into the Rowdies box found second-half substitute Cesar Elizondo's header to put the match level at 1-1. With the match once again tied, it was Shipalane who would score the game-winning goal moments before the final whistle. The midfielder was able to shake off Sanfilippo and fire a shot. As Restrepo dove to make the save, the ball took a slight deflection off a Rowdies defender and trickled into the back of the net.
|New York Cosmos||31||14||9||4||1||10|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||20||14||5||5||4||3|
|Minnesota United FC||20||14||6||2||6||2|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||18||14||5||3||6||-2|
|San Antonio Scorpions||10||14||3||1||10||-9|
|San Antonio Scorpions||20||12||6||2||4||4|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||18||12||5||3||4||5|
|Minnesota United FC||14||12||4||2||6||-5|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||8||12||2||2||8||-14|