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Rowdies keep winning formula going with third straight win

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To sum up, ditto.

For the third straight game, the Tampa Bay Rowdies got a goal from Georgi Hristov.

For the third straight game, the Rowdies got a clean sheet from Akira Fitzgerald.

And for the third straight game, the Rowdies won a game at Al Lang Stadium. This time, the Rowdies stopped  the Ottawa Fury FC in a 1-0 game. The Rowdies have now collected nine points in their three home games to key one of their fastest starts.

“You can build momentum and confidence from this type of start,” Rowdies’ coach Stuart Campbell said. “Tonight was a tough game physically. They put us under a lot of pressure physically with a lot of long balls, but we defended absolutely fantastically again. I was really happy for the whole team to get a clean sheet again.”

Hristov’s goal came from a Luke Boden cross which was deflected by an Ottawa defender, but not enough to prevent it from reaching Hristov at the near post.

“I think we played really good tonight because it was a very, very tough game,” Hristov said. “The way they played, it’s very hard to play against. I don’t think they were really looking for a win. It was a good test for us because it was hard to break through them because they were very tight with no space. Even though it didn’t look like one of our best games, I personally think it was our best game so far.”

Fitzgerald made three saves on the night. Fitzgerald had been asked to make only two saves in the first two weeks combined. But the Rowdies haven’t given up a goal since the team played in the NASL.

“It was a great result again with another clean sheet,” Fitzgerald said. “The chances (Ottawa had) were from distance, things I’m expected to do well with. I’m glad I was able to help the guys out. The guys in front of me battled really hard. We knew it was going to be a tough game.”

Tampa Bay (3-0-0, 9 points) could’ve doubled its advantage in the 51st minute when Michael Nanchoff beat his defender and was chopped down just outside the box, but the Rowdies didn’t convert the free kick into a goal.

Up next, the Rowdies hit the road for the first time in the USL regular season, visiting Louisville City FC next Saturday and then FC Cincinnati on Wednesday.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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