July 21, 2012 - (Tampa Bay, Tampa) The Puerto Rico Islanders fell 2-0 on Saturday to the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium thanks to two second half goals from the Florida side. The Rowdies leapt over the Islanders in the NASL table as they secured their 30th point of the season. The Islanders (28 points) will return home to Bayamón Soccer Complex to host Minnesota on Saturday, July 28th at 7:30 p.m.
Islanders' Coach Adrian Whitbread was left unhappy with the team's performance: It is disappointing. If you don’t keep the ball, don’t pass the ball, it is impossible to get it out of your end. We needed to do this, especially away from home and we did not”.
The first action of the match saw chances for both teams in the 7th minute. Mike Ambersley fired a shot from the top of the box that Islanders' keeper Richard Martin firmly punched out of the area. The Islanders latched onto the loose ball and launched a dangerous counter attack but Héctor “Pito” Ramos’ effort slid wide left of the goal.
Martin was called into action in the 11th minute from another scorching Rowdies’ effort, but once again the Brit was equal to the task.
The Islanders nearly grabbed the lead in the 21st but Jarad van Schaik’s long-range effort sailed just over. The Islanders continued their pressing with Jonathan Faña looking particularly inventive, but the Islanders still could not convert after a series of half chances.
The best chance of the half fell to the Rowdies in the 29th minute. After a scramble in the box after a corner kick, Richard Martin was caught way out of position but inexplicably, Rowdies’ Luke Mulholland skied his effort over the wide-open goal and the game stayed scoreless.
Faña flashed a left footed half volley over the bar just before the whistle blew for half time. The teams entered the tunnel 0-0.
The teams traded chances from the start of the second half. Notably in the 65th minute, Islanders' Anthony Vázquez’s header was driven just wide left. It would have been the Islanders defender’s first goal of the season.
The breakthrough came in the 72nd minute for the Rowdies. After a bout of sustained and intricate ball possession, Frank Sanfilippo provided the finishing touch on a one-time effort from Mike Ambersley’s well weighted cross. It is the 6th assist of the season for Ambersley, tying him for the NASL lead.
The Rowdies finished off the game in the 85th minute. Mike Ambersley, already with the assist in the match, received the ball from Fafa Picault, and chipped Martin to bury Puerto Rico. Ambersley has netted 5 times now for the Rowdies this season.
The final whistle blew at 2-0, prompting a reshuffling towards the top of the NASL league table.
Head Coach Adrian Whitbread commented after watching the tape " I reviewed the DVD from last nights game and our passing and possesion of the ball was very poor, and if you dont take care of the ballwe will never take the presure off defending as a team."