The Fort Lauderdale Strikers fell in the finale of the NASL's Spring season 4-0 against the rival Tampa Bay Rowdies on Thursday night in front of 5,034 fans at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla. Two goals in each half propelled the Rowdies to the win. The Strikers Mark Anderson returned from injury to play a full 90 minutes in the match.
"We are obviously very disappointed. I think the early goal caused us to lose some confidence and we were not able to recover," said Strikers' interim head coach Ricardo Lopes. "In the second half we were able to use the counter attack to generate some good chances, but their keeper made some good saves."
In the 20th minute forward Georgi Hristov ran down the Strikers’ right flank and played a through ball to Keith Savage who's shot from inside the 18 yard box put the Rowdies up 1-0. The Strikers' Hosman Ramos fired a shot toward Rowdies' goalkeeper Diego Restrepo in the 28th minute, which he successfully blocked away.
Savage’s second goal came when Luke Mulholland played the ball into the box which Strikers' goalkeeper Matt Glaeser attempted to punch away. Glaeser's attempt was off and Savage was able to head the ball into the net from eight yards away for his third goal of the season.
The second half began with an excellent chance as Strikers' left back Stephane Guillaume hit a cross come shot from 35 yards away which caromed off the Rowdies' crossbar and was cleared away by defender Jordan Gafa.
The Rowdies extended their lead in the 52nd minute when defender Jay Needham headed in a Luke Mulholland corner kick. The Rowdies then made it 4-0 when Hristov played a through ball to forward Mike Ambersley who beat Glaeser one-on-one.
The Strikers' final chance came in the 70th minute when Jemal Johnson was free from 10 yards away but Restrepo came out and blocked Johnson’s shot.
Tampa Bay wins the season series 2-0-0 and is unbeaten in 13 of the last 14 games against the Strikers.
TBR: Keith Savage (Georgi Hristov) 19'
TBR: Keith Savage (unassisted) 32'
TBR: Jay Needham (Luke Mulholland) 52'
TBR: Mike Ambersley (Georgi Hristov) 56'
Strikers Lineup: Matt Glaeser; Stéphane Guillaume, Justin Chavez, Rubens (Manny Gonzalez 59'), Iván Guerrero; Pecka (Mike Dietze 86'), Toni Ståhl (C); Hosman Ramos (Walter Restrepo 59'), Mark Anderson, Jemal Johnson; Darnell King
Available substitutes: Lionel Brown (GK), Daniel Arcila, Walter Restrepo, Carlos Salazar, Mike Dietze, Gonzalo De Mujica, Manny Gonzalez
Rowdies Lineup: Diego Restrepo; Jordan Gafa, Frankie Sanfilippo (C), Jay Needham, Andres Arango; Luke Mulholland, Shane Hill, Keith Savage, Evans Frimpong; Mike Ambersley, Georgi Hristov (Amani Walker 73')
Available Substitutes: Andrew Fontein, Thurston Johnson, Kyle Clinton, Stuart Campbell, Raphael Cox, Amani Walker, Devin Del Do, Jamael Cox
FTL: Toni Stahl (YC) 30'
FTL: Rubens (YC) 31'
TBR: Jay Needham (YC) 54'
FTL: Manny Gonzalez (YC) 67'