CARY. N.C. – The Carolina RailHawks came up with a disappointing 1-1 draw with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at WakeMed Soccer Park on Wednesday.
Yes, they extended their unbeaten streak to six games, carrying over from the Spring Season, but they missed their target in grabbing all three points that were available.
Looking to build upon their NASL Fall Season-opening 3-1 win over Minnesota United FC last Saturday, Carolina worked to wear its opponent down.
In front of a crowd of 3,055 in attendance and under sunny skies, Neil Hlavaty scored his third goal of the season to put Carolina ahead 1-0 early in the second half.
Prior to that, both teams had played to a scoreless first half with the RailHawks putting together the most dangerous attacks on goal against a Fort Lauderdale team that was playing its first match of the new season.
Ty Shipalane was crowded out by three defenders before he set up a shot in the 17th minute of play.
A trap to a one-timed volley from Blake Wagner beat Fort Lauderdale goalkeeper Josh Ford, but caught the entirety of the crossbar in the 35th minute to keep both sides tied at 0-0.
“I thought the game was a very blah game, for want of a better word, for the first 45 minutes,” RailHawks coach Colin Clarke said.
“We talked about some things at half time and we got a lot better – we moved quicker, we moved it sharper, got into better situations and played forward more.”
Hlavaty connected in the 53rd minute on a setup from Simone Bracalello and gave Carolina a one-goal lead.
Ty Shipalane initiated the RailHawks’ scoring play after forcing a turnover along the right side of the box.
The midfielder shifted the ball over to Nazmi Albadawi who then found Bracalello hovering over the 12-yard spot.
The striker then dropped the ball back to Hlavaty at the center top of the box where he had ample time to place a strike past a diving Ford into the top-right corner of the goal.
The RailHawks continued to put together repetitive attacks during the next 20 minutes, but couldn’t extend their lead as a result of the efforts of Ford and his back line.
With a thunderstorm approaching, the match was delayed in the 75th minute and the players and spectators moved for cover as wind gusts and rain blew through the park while lightning strikes illuminated the dark sky in the distance.
Following a nearly two-hour delay, play resumed at 10:55 p.m.
It didn’t take the Strikers long to score as Stefano Pinho redirected a feed into the box from Victor Pagliari Giro.
Pinho gave the ball enough lift to clear over sliding RailHawks keeper Akira Fitzgerald, and tied the score 1-1 in the 77th minute.
Unlike before the delay, when Carolina held much of the offensive momentum, Fort Lauderdale played as the more aggressive and dominant side for the final 15 minutes of play.
The RailHawks had their chances to win with three corner kicks and a curling ball on goal from Albadawi during extra time, but couldn’t beat Ford.
As a result, both teams left the pitch with a draw to their credit – one happy about it, and the other not.
”It’s one of those games I’m extremely happy to go home with one point,” Fort Lauderdale coach Gunter Kronsteiner said.
“Under the circumstances, of course the home team was better. I was a little surprised they didn’t make a little bit more out of this.”
“The worst thing that happened was the delay,” Clarke said.
“I thought right about that time, we were gettin’ control of the game and lookin’ like we’d score a second goal. We did everything we could to prepare and start (the second half), and we didn’t start very well. We made some decisions with the ball that gave them opportunities to tie it up.”