As the regular season approaches, the Tampa Bay Rowdies‘ defense is obviously ready.
The offense, however, could use a bit more effectiveness.
The Rowdies lost to the Jacksonville Armada Saturday in their next-to-last preseason game before the regular season, which begins March 25 against Orlando B. The Rowdies dominated much of the play, but could not finish.
Armada midfielder J.C. Banks scored the only goal of the match, just three minutes into the second half.
“Despite the result, the team continued to press and press, which is good as we continue to prepare for the home opener,” said Rowdies’ coach Stuart Campbell. “We need to continue to work on things ahead of March 25, but if we continue to create chances like we did tonight, we’ll find positive results.”
Trialist forward Martin Paterson had two chances in the first couple of minutes, but, as he was trying to capitalize on Armada’s defensive mistakes, the home club was able to put out the fire both times.
Jacksonville’s most dangerous chances came off two free kicks conceded by Rowdies defender Damion Lowe. Despite being in good positions, Jacksonville was unable to put either shot on frame.
As the second half began to settle down, Jacksonville found the only goal of the match via a great finish by Banks. After beating the offside trap, Banks was alone in front of goal and buried his shot past Rowdies trialist goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald.
Rowdies midfielder Martin Vingaard nearly equalized in the 68th minute, firing a wonderful volley just inches wide. His volley jump-started the Rowdies’ offense, which searched tirelessly for the equalizer.
With just 15 minutes left, the best chance to equalize came via a header by defender Damion Lowe. A header from just outside the 6-yard box was denied from point-blank by Jacksonville goalkeeper Kyle Nastar.
Despite numerous corner kicks and crosses into the box, the Rowdies were unable to break a strong Armada defense, who held on for the 1-0 win.
“On any other night, we would’ve [scored] three or four goals, but it didn’t happen for us tonight,” said Campbell. “We need to look ahead to next Saturday and see what we need to improve as it’s our final test before our home opener against Orlando.”
The Rowdies will be in action next Saturday, March 18, when they travel to play Miami FC of the North American Soccer League. The match will kick off at 11 a.m. at St. Thomas University.