Officially, it was only 317 minutes.
It just felt like an eternity.
“It’s good to finally get the reward for our performance,” Rowdies coach Stuart Campbell said. “I’ve stood here too often saying, ‘Well, we played really well but (didn’t get a result).’ Tonight we played really well again but got the result. It’s really pleasing to see how the guys continually pick themselves up when things aren’t going for them. It shows the character, the togetherness and the team spirit is spot on.”
Cole was close to another goal early on a penalty shot that was saved by OKC goalkeeper Daniel Fernandes.
“I need to thank the fans,” Campbell said. “When we missed the penalty kick in the first half, it would have been easy to sit there and think, ‘Oh no. Here we go again.’ But they didn’t. Straightaway, the fans were back at it. They galvanized the team and the players bounced back.”
Cole broke a scoreless tie in the 61st minute when his shot bounced off OKC defender Futty Danso. Nine minutes later, Cole tapped in his second goal when Georgi Hristov’s shot bounded off Fernandez and went straight to him.
“I feel we played well again tonight,” Cole said. “All credit to the staff and the players. It’s nice to score, but the main thing is the team wins. I’m all about the team.”
Tampa Bay had 23 shots, including eight on target. OKC had only one on target, a point-blank shot by Richie Menjivar stopped by Matt Pickens.
For Pickens, it was the sixth clean sheet of the season.
“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Pickens said. “It’s kind of like a Christmas gift you’ve been wanting for a couple years and then you finally get it. We’re finally getting rewarded for our effort and putting the ball in the back of the net.”
The Rowdies are on the road next week to play the Indy 11.