(Photo by W.J. Walsh) The Atlanta Silverbacks fell to the Tampa Bay Rowdies, 3-2, Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd of 5,000 fans at Atlanta Silverbacks Park.
The visiting Rowdies came out of the gate with a purpose on Saturday night, and it took just 12 minutes for them to push ahead. Rowdies forward Daniel Antoniuk, a former Silverbacks player, continued his strong run of form against his old team, putting his team in front 1-0. Antoniuk, who scored for the Rowdies on April 21 in Atlanta, settled down a lob pass from midfielder Shane Hill and poked a shot under the outstretched arms of Silverbacks goalkeeper Daniel Illyes.
The Silverbacks defense remained under duress as the first half continued, with Illyes playing a big part in keeping the Rowdies off the scoreboard for a second time. The Hungarian goalkeeper did well to deny forward Matt Clare and Antoniuk from close range in the 18th and 30th minute respectively.
After Illyes again came up big to stop a shot from Hill, the Rowdies doubled their lead through another goal from Antoniuk. Midfielder Keith Savage was the provider this time, playing a ball over the top to the awaiting Antoniuk, who slotted the ball into the side netting for a 2-0 lead.
It was a tale of two halves, though, as the Silverbacks begun to fight back early in the second half. Forward Matt Horth was the first to test Rowdies goalkeeper Jeff Attinella, but it was substitute midfielder Shane Moroney that provided the Silverbacks with a spark in the 63rd minute. The Peachtree City native met a cross from defender Raphael Cox, and headed the ball past Attinella to make the score 2-1.
The Silverbacks were playing with plenty of confidence following the goal and three minutes later, league-leading scorer Reinaldo Navia nearly tied the game. The Chilean forward’s blast was cleared off the line by a Rowdies defender, keeping the game at 2-1.
The Rowdies would add to their lead in the 79th minute when forward Mike Ambersley used some impressive footwork to weave through the Silverbacks defense and beat Illyes with a left-footed shot into the corner.
Despite being down two goals late in the game, the Silverbacks stayed strong and forced an interesting finish in the 88th minute. Moroney converted another header from a cross, this time a corner kick from midfielder Ciaran O’Brien, pulling a goal back for the Silverbacks and making it 3-2. The Rowdies would prevail in the end, though, despite a valiant comeback effort from the home team.
Atlanta Silverbacks Starting XI: Daniel Illyes- GK, Jordan Davis –D, Wille Hunt – D, Rilla – D (45’ – Shane Moroney), Raphael Cox - D, Tony McManus – M (75’ – Fernando Gonzalez), Lucas Paulini - M, Borfor Carr - M, Danilo Turcios – M (Captain) (81’ – Ciaran O’Brien), Reinaldo Navia – F, Mat Horth - F
Tampa Bay Rowdies Starting XI: Jeff Attinella- GK, Frank Sanfilippo –D (Captain), JP Rodrigues - D, Takuya Yamada - D, Draymond Washington – D, Stuart Campbell - M, Shane Hill - M, Keith Savage - M, Matt Clare – F (71’ – Luke Mulholland), Daniel Antoniuk – F (81’ – Tsuyoshi Yoshitake) (84’ – Fafa Picault), Mike Ambersley - F
Stats:Shots (ATL 11. TAM 13), Fouls (ATL 15. TAM 12), Saves (ATL 6. TAM 4), Corners (ATL 6. TAM 6)