Things were going swimmingly for the Hounds. A tight defense gave Tampa Bay little possession in significant locations and the Riverhounds had a bevy of opportunities. That all added up to a late first half-goal that gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead at the midpoint.
“It was typical Lilleyball” said Steel Army member Jeff Fowler. “I’d prefer if we got the goal first, then played possession. But Tampa Bay wasn’t really attacking either.”
And it looked like, with continued caution and a closely packed midfield, Pittsburgh would be capable of grinding out another signature shutout victory. In eleven home matches before tonight, the Hounds had conceded just two goals to their opponents.
But then a fluky chance against the run-of-play occurred, and the Rowdies scored a surprising goal in the 72nd minute to gain a draw. And that’s how it stayed at the final, 1-1.
Coach Bob Lilley was upbeat about the draw despite conceding the lead. “We wanted to be the better team in the 1st half and we got four or five looks. We traveled well. We defended well. I think we got their best punch tonight. They needed the three points.”
He was less enthusiastic about conceding a goal down the stretch, however. “Late in the season, you don’t want to be making those little mistakes.”
Lilley’s plan going in was fairly clear. “That was the type of game you need to control start to finish. We talked before the game about attacking the box and getting in behind. We wanted to get forward with our fullbacks, get around the edges. That’s why we started Andrew Lubahn. And Jordan Dover is always dangerous going forward.”
The Hounds are back at it next Wednesday for another midweek clash, away to Indy Eleven, and hoping to solidify their position high in the Eastern Conference, or even perhaps make a run at the number one spot before the regular season concludes.
PGH – Mike Kirk; Joe Greenspan, Tobi Adewole, Thomas Vancaeyzeele; Andrew Lubahn, Jordan Dover; Mouhamed Dabo, Christiano Francois, Kenardo Forbes, Ben Zemanski (Parkes, 78′); Neco Brett
TBR – Daniel Vega; Pape Diakite, Tarek Morad, Hunter Goiskie, Leo Fernandes, Martin Vingaard; Joe Cole (Guenzatti 79′), Afrim Taku, Dominic Oduro; Georgi Hristov (Flemmings, 65′), Stefano Bonomo (Taylor, 24′)
7′ – Off a corner that bounces around a little, Tampa Bay’s Georgi Hristov takes a shot low and center of the of goal, but newly minted Riverhounds starting keeper Mike Kirk saves it without incident.
14′ – Free kick to the Hounds, easily cleared
19′ – A ball slides across to the right side for Kenardo Forbes. The forward puts on a filthy in-step cut to burn his man, but a second defender steps in to poke the ball out of play midfield.
20′ – Stefano Bonomo comes off with an injury to his right leg. Tampa plays a man down.
24′ – Leon Taylor subs on for the injured Bonomo.
28′ – Christiano Francois gets a ball as the Hounds are gathered around the arc up in a half-court set. From 25 yards out he laces a left footed shot, just over the crossbar.
32′ – Tobi Adewole dribbles up from left back and tries a long bomb from 35 yards out. it hits the turf and bounces to Rowdies goalkeeper Daniel Vega, who catches with no trouble.
37′ – ‘Cheetah’ Francois goes down the left sideline 50 yards, shifts the ball to his right and slides inside the defender, and takes a long low shot from just under 30 yards. No trouble for the keeper Vega.
44′ – Francois sents a floating cross across the box from left to right, and Kenardo Forbes takes it on the half-volley. Vega makes a fantastic low kick-save with both feet to keep the match level only a few ticks before the half.
45+1′ – Goal! Mouhamed Dabo gets a ball sent across on a pass from the left by Neco Brett, takes a swing on first touch from 25 yards out, and hammers it to the low right post. Goal! And on the stroke of halftime, the Hounds will enter the locker room with a 1-0 lead.
55′ – Left back Andrew Lubahn fires one from outside the box, blocked.
62′ – A rough challenge by Thomas Vancaeyezeele results in a foul, and he sees yellow, the first card of the game.
63′ – The Riverhounds get a free kick
72′ – Goal! Junior Flemmings runs down the right flank, jukes his defender who attempted to make a play and the ball, and slots it past Mike Kirk. Rowdies get a goal against the run of play to draw it up 1-1.
89′ – Neco Brett curls a cross to no one in particular, but it nearly finds the far post.
90+2′ – GK Vega gets a yellow card for delay of game.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds 1, Tampa Bay Rowdies 1
Wednesday, August 22, 2018 at Highmark Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA