Failure to pull the trigger on shots and lack of confidence on the ball was again the story of the night as FC Tampa Bay (1-2-2) again failed to create offensive chances as they lost to the Carolina Railhawks (3-1-1) 3-1.
Rookie goalkeeper Jeff Attinella, making his first professional start, showed signed of early-match jitters, letting rebounds loose in the penalty box early on. After a scrum in the six yard box, the shot ended up going just wide, giving FCTB a reprieve.
That reprieve would not last long, however, as Etienne Barbara, the NASL leader in goals, calmed slotted one past Attinella in the 20th minute. Pascal Millien, the 25 year old Haitian International and University of Tampa Graduate, came roaring back moments later to angle a shot to the left corner of the net from outside the box to equalize. This was Millien’s first goal, despite leading the team in goals in pre-season.
On the night, however, the Railhawks looked firmly in control. Forwards Warren Ukah and Mike Ambersley looked hopelessly outmatched throughout the game. Ambersley had a number of breakaway chances but could not outrun his defender, at one point sliding for the ball, only to misjudge the timing and plant his foot in the grass and come up limping. Ukah was out-powered, out-jumped, and out-performed, leading to chants of Aaron King’s name. King, the team’s leading scorer a year ago, was subbed in for Ukah in the 79th minute to cheers.
Carolina took the game by the throat by capitalizing on defensive miscues as Brian Farber scored in the 52nd minute off an assist by Barbara before Barbara hit his league-leading 6th goal in 5 games in the 76th minute to complete his double and finish off the game.
FCTB looks to rebound from this disappointing loss on Wednesday against expansion side FC Edmonton. The game begins at 7 PM.