The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Richmond Kickers played to a 1-1 draw Saturday night at City Stadium.
After going up 1-0 early in the second half via a Marcel Schäfer goal, the Rowdies were seconds away from winning before conceding an equalizing goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
“It’s a tough result,” said Head Coach Stuart Campbell. “We controlled most of the match, and to get scored on in the final play of the match is hard.”
It was Richmond who got the first chance of the match in the fourth minute, drawing a dangerous free kick just inches outside the 18-yard box. Midfielder Raul Gonzalez set up to take the kick and curled it to the far post, but fortunately for the Rowdies, there was no one there to tap it in.
The Rowdies would answer in the 12th minute, after forward Martin Paterson pressured the Kickers’ defense into a mistake and recovered the ball in the opposing 18-yard box. After trying to find an incoming Joe Cole, Rowdies midfielder Leo Fernandes was on the end of a poor clearance and fired his shot. The Kickers scrambled to get back in position and were able to get a piece of it to clear it for a corner.
The Rowdies were forced to use an early substitution, as Leo Fernandes was forced to come off due to injury in the 21st minute.
The clearest chance of the night came in the 26th minute when Schäfer curled a perfect corner kick to a towering Neill Collins, but the Scotsman’s header was just wide of the frame.
Richmond closed out the half holding possession and creating several chances of its own. A Fernando cross in the 40th minute nearly found an open Yudai Imura at the far past, but the Japanese midfielder was unable to get his header on goal.
The Rowdies would jump ahead in the 64th minute via a Marcel Shäfer free kick from just outside the 18-yard box. His rocket hit the wall and trickled past Richmond goalkeeper Matt Turner, who was diving the other way.
“It’s always nice to score, but I would change a goal for three points any day,” said Schäfer. “We controlled the game and getting scored on in the last moment of the match is hard. We picked up a point on the road, but it could’ve easily been three.”
Minutes later, midfielder Joe Cole had the chance to double the lead after stealing the ball off a Richmond center back and going in on goal, but Richmond recovered well and blocked Cole’s shot.
The Rowdies would regret not securing the match, as Richmond’s newcomer Frank Tayou scored the equalizer in the final play of the match. The second-half substitute, who only signed with the Kickers Friday, received a ball from defender Mallan Roberts and fired a volley from outside the 18-yard box into the top corner of the net, denying the Rowdies the three crucial road points.
The Rowdies will play on the road Thursday, June 22, this time flying up to Pittsburgh to face the Riverhounds. They will then have another road match July 1, this time facing the first-place Charleston Battery.
“We have another important road match Thursday,” said Campbell. “We’re going to look at this game and work on several things. We need to learn from games like these and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Rowdies: Marcel Schäfer — 64th minute
Kickers: Franck Tayou — 90+’ minute (assisted by Mallan Roberts)
Rowdies: Luke Boden — 41st minute
Rowdies: Keith Savage — 44th minute
Rowdies: Damion Lowe — 60th minute
Rowdies XI (4-2-3-1) GK Matt Pickens; D Darnell King, Damion Lowe, Neill Collins, Luke Boden; M Marcel Schäfer, Keith Savage; M Georgi Hristov, Joe Cole, Leo Fernandes (Darwin Jones 21′); F Martin Paterson (Deshorn Brown 80′)
Richmond XI (4-5-1): GK Matt Turner; D Alex Lee, Conor Shanosky (c), Mallan Roberts, Braeden Troyer; M Luiz Fernando (Finnlay Wyatt 70′), Yudai Imura (Fred Owusu Sekyere 77′), Raul Gonzalez, Chris Durkin, Sunny Jane; F Anthony Grant (Franck Tayou 66′)