USL Match Recap: Islanders return home short of 3 points

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Rowdies cruised to a 3-0 victory against the Harrisburg City Islanders on Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium. Neither side created much early, but the Rowdies took the lead in the 15th minute when a corner kick flicked on by Justin Chavez fell to Neill Collins just outside the six-yard area, and the center back knocked home his second goal of the season. Tampa Bay had the better of the remainder of the half, and both Martin Paterson and Alex Morrell had efforts saved by City Islanders goalkeeper Brandon Miller to keep it a one-goal game at halftime. Harrisburg’s Ropapa Mensah fired high 11 minutes after the break as the City Islanders looked to get back into the game, but the Rowdies added to their advantage with 17 minutes to go when Martin Paterson got on the end of Marcel Schafer’s cross from the left for a diving header into the left side of the net. The Rowdies wrapped up the win in the final minute as Schafer provided the assist again, this time setting up Walter Restrepo for his first goal for Tampa Bay.

Scoring:
15’ – TBR – Neill Collins (Justin Chavez)
73’ – TBR – Martin Paterson (Marcel Schafer)
90’ – TBR – Walter Restrepo (Marcel Schafer)

Three Things That Matter:

  • 1. The Tampa Bay Rowdies’ dominance on home turf continued with another comprehensive victory at Al Lang Stadium that kept the side’s recent momentum going. Tampa Bay might have had a nice bounce go its way on Neill Collins’ opening goal, but the hosts were in control for most of the night in terms of possession and chances to take their fourth win in the past five games. The Rowdies will now turn their attention to getting their road form on a parallel with its home form, with nine of the club’s 10 wins this season having come at home. If the side can keep this run going, however, it might have some more home games to play in October.
  • 2. Martin Paterson has been a key figure in the Rowdies’ attacking success over the past month, and his goal on Saturday night – his fourth in the past five games – was another indicator of the quality he brings to the team. The former Northern Ireland international played an elongated version of a give-and-go, with his pass 35 yards from goal finding Marcel Schafer on the left side. Paterson then made a perfect late run into the penalty area, finding space as the City Islanders defense failed to pick him up, and deposited his diving header into the left corner. Paterson has picked up the mantle of primary goal-scorer for Tampa Bay, and the Rowdies are a tough proposition as a result.
  • 3. The City Islanders trip to Florida yielded a point, but the side now faces a pair of crucial games in the next week back on home turf at FNB Field. With the Rochester Rhinos set to visit on Tuesday night, Harrisburg is going to have to get back in track offensively after back-to-back shutouts, being held to only two long-range shots on goal as Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens celebrated his 100th appearance for the club with a shutout. The playoffs are still there to be earned, but the City Islanders need to get back in the win column soon.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match

Marcel Schafer, Tampa Bay Rowdies – Schafer provided two excellent assists on the night, and continued to excel in his first season with Tampa Bay.