Neill Collins thumped a header over the line in the 87th minute to give the Tampa Bay Rowdies a 1-1 draw Saturday night against Saint Louis FC at Al Lang Stadium.
Tampa Bay (6-3-3 (W-T-L), 21 points) trailed for much of the second half after Jose Angulo’s 59th-minute free kick goal, but Collins stepped up to rescue the Rowdies a point by burying a Michael Nanchoff corner kick at the near post.
It was a testy match that had very little flow. Thirty fouls were called and eight yellow cards were dished out in a tight battle.
“It was a little frustrating tonight,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “The guys showed great resilience. We conceded a goal against the run of play when I thought we were going to score. We were on top, dominating and looking dangerous and then they had a moment of brilliance from (Angulo.) We responded well because it would have been easy for the guys to feel sorry for themselves with some of the decisions that went against us. The guys didn’t. They kept going and got the goal they deserved.”
The Rowdies dominated for most of the first half with lots of possession in the Saint Louis (3-3-3, 12 points) 18-yard box, but the cutting edge wasn’t quite there.
Rowdies captain Joe Cole had the first great scoring chance of the night in the 13th minute, taking a free kick from deep that looked bound for goal before a well-timed palm from Saint Louis goalkeeper Adam Grinwis to push it over the crossbar.
Saint Louis could’ve scored two minutes later when Christian Volesky led a swift counterattack into the Rowdies’ 18, but the sliding efforts of Darnell King, Tamika Mkandawire and Matt Pickens were enough to stamp out the chance.
The match went into halftime without a goal.
Tampa Bay stepped on the accelerator in the second half, with Alex Morrell taking a left-footed shot in the 50th minute that was saved by Grinwis.
The Rowdies shouted for a penalty kick in the 53rd minute when Cole was clipped as he received a pass 13 yards from goal, but the appeal was unsuccessful.
Leo Fernandes was whistled for a foul just outside the box in the 58th minute. Initially, Saint Louis was granted the advantage, but when Angulo lost the ball after a sloppy touch, the free kick was given.
Angulo would lift it over the wall and beat Pickens on his left-hand side to put the visitors ahead.
Despite playing their fifth game in 15 days, compared to Saint Louis playing for the first time since May 17, the Rowdies looked like the stronger side down the stretch.
Tampa Bay pushed for an equalizer and looked to be running out of time until King won the Rowdies a corner kick with a low cross in the 86th minute. One minute later, Nanchoff’s cross found the forehead of Collins for the equalizer.
“I thought we deserved the goal,” Collins said. “After a really tough week, it’s not the worst point. We’ve got to give (Saint Louis) credit. They’re a hard-working side and they came here with a good game plan and well rested, so it’s not the worst point in the world.”
Tampa Bay dominated statistically with 12 goals (four on goal) compared to three for Saint Louis. The Rowdies had 27 crosses, 22 more than Saint Louis.
The Rowdies return to Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play Wednesday night with a Third-Round match against the NASL’s Miami FC in South Florida. Tampa Bay’s next home game is June 10 the Rochester Rhinos.
Saint Louis – Jose Angulo – 58th minute
Rowdies – Neill Collins – 87th minute (Assisted by Michael Nanchoff)
Rowdies: Leo Fernandes – 6th minute
Saint Louis: Wesley Charpie – 12th minute
Rowdies: Alex Morrell – 39th minute
Saint Louis: Emir Alihodzic – 41st minute
Saint Louis: Konrad Plewa – 55th minute
Rowdies: Darnell King -56th minute
Rowdies: Michael Nanchoff – 76th minute
Rowdies: Tamika Mkandawire – 82nd minute
Rowdies XI (4-2-3-1): GK Akira Fitzgerald; D Darnell King, Tamika Mkandawire, Neill Collins, Marcel Schäfer; M Michael Nanchoff, Keith Savage; M Alex Morrell (Darwin Jones 63′), Joe Cole (c), Leo Fernandes (Deshorn Brown 73′); F Martin Paterson (Georgi Hristov 67′)
Saint Louis XI (4-4-2): GK Adam Grinwis; D Wesley Charpie, Konrad Plewa, Aedan Stanley, Erick Cabalceta; M Sebastian Dalgard (Mats Bjurman 46′), Dragan Stojkov (c), Tony Walls, Emir Alihodzic; F Jose Angulo (Octavio Guzman 68′), Christian Volesky (Tyler David 62′)