A late Fort Lauderdale Strikers comeback fell short as the Tampa Bay Rowdies won the first Florida Derby of the 2013 Spring Championship 2-1 at historic Lockhart Stadium on Saturday night in front of 4,563 fans. Goals from midfielders Luke Mulholland and Alex Dixon put the Rowdies ahead, before Strikers’ midfielder Walter Restrepo would score to make it 2-1. A late push by the Strikers was not enough as Fort Lauderdale suffer their third consecutive loss and first at home.
“We had a bad stretch of about 10 minutes in the first half when we gave away too many balls in the midfield and gave up the goal,” said Strikers head coach Daryl Shore. “When we brought Walter Restrepo in we knew we were going to give up a bit defensively, but even though we went down 2-0 we were able to get the goal back and pushed hard to score again, and were a bit unlucky not to get the second goal.”
Both teams shared possession in the first half with early bookings coming for both sides in the first six minutes of the match. Strikers’ starting goalkeeper Cody Laurendi was forced to leave the match in the 35th minute when he was involved in a collision with a Rowdies’ player in the penalty area. Matt Glaeser would replace Laurendi for Fort Lauderdale.
Tampa Bay was the first to strike when, in the final minutes of the first half midfielder Luke Mulholland scored his third goal of the season off a shot from outside the 18-yard box that was just out of the reach of Strikers’ goalkeeper Matt Glaeser. Mulholland's shot curled into the bottom left corner of the net, taking a bounce off the post before it hit the back of the net.
In the second half, Rowdies’ substitute Alex Dixon scored his first goal for Tampa Bay in the 78th minute. What would eventually be the game-winning goal came off a low cross from the left flank by forward Georgi Hristov, which Dixon tapped in to make it 2-0 Rowdies.
Fort Lauderdale responded just two minutes later when, as second half substitute, Restrepo made it 2-1 in the 80th minute. Restrepo was able to beat the Rowdies' goalkeeper, who had come off his line, and score from a very sharp angle to the right side of goal.
The Strikers looked for the equalizer in the last 10 minutes of the match, but Rowdies goalkeeper Diego Restrepo came up big on several dangerous chances. The Strikers fall to 0-1-3, with one point on the season, while the Rowdies notch their second win of the year and are now 2-1-1, 7 points.
Tampa Bay - Luke Mulholland - 42nd minute
Tampa Bay - Alex Dixon - 78th minute (Assisted by Georgi Hristov)
Fort Lauderdale - Walter Restrepo - 80th minute (Assisted by Darnell King)
Fort Lauderdale - David Foley - 4th minute
Tampa Bay - Evans Frimpong - 7th minute
Fort Lauderdale - Pecka - 61st minute
Tampa Bay - Luke Mulholland - 61st minute
Tampa Bay - Daniel Scott - 67th minute
GK Diego Restrepo; D Frankie Sanfilippo (Captain), D Jay Needham (Jordan Gafa 12'), D Daniel Scott, D Andres Arango (Amani Walker 74'); M Evans Frimpong (Alex Dixon 63'), M Keith Savage, M Shane Hill, M Raphael Cox; F Luke Mulholland, F Georgi Hristov
GK Cody Laurendi (Matt Glaeser 35'); D Darnell King, D Shavar Thomas, D Toni Ståhl (Captain), D Ivan Guerrero; M Rubens Pinheiro (Walter Restrepo 45'), M Pecka; M Jemal Johnson, M Mark Anderson, M David Foley; F Stefan Dimitrov (Aly Hassan 69')
Photo by Rosa Cavalcanti