Carolina RailHawks draw 1-1 with Minnesota United

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CARY, N.C. – The Carolina RailHawks wanted sole possession of second place to end the NASL Spring Season when they kicked off against Minnesota United FC at WakeMed Soccer Park on Saturday.

They eventually ended up with a 1-1 tie to stay even with the Loons, as both dropped to third place in the league table.

Nacho Novo scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season for Carolina, while goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald made four saves.

J.C. Banks tallied the Loons’ lone goal, while keeper Sammy N’Djock got in the way of numerous RailHawks attacks.

“I thought it was a pretty good game – a good game to watch,” Carolina head coach Colin Clarke said.

“End-to-end action, a lot of good chances, good goalmouth action, two good teams and a good ebb and flow to the game.”

Undefeated in their previous three matches, the RailHawks came into the game riding their strongest offensive output of the season with a 4-0 road win at Jacksonville last week.

Both teams started at a quick pace with much ball movement throughout the midfield.

Starting in the 12th minute of play, Carolina began to seriously press the Minnesota defense and N’Djock.

The Loons keeper stopped a Ty Shipalane shot while the back line crowded around and thwarted additional efforts from Novo to put another shot on goal.

Novo put the ball in the back of the goal in the 21st minute, but was flagged offside on the play, and both teams continued on scoreless.

United’s back line was particularly adept at timing their line movement to catch Carolina ahead of the ball on five separate occasions and at times questionably so according to the Spaniard.

“I think they stayed on top of us and played some good football,” Novo said.

“But I think about some decisions for a few goals – for offsides – I’m not sure if they were all offsides.”

A few minutes later, work off the right sideline by Novo and Shipalane fed a ball in to Leo Osaki who got behind the United back line.

However, N’Djock managed to get possession of the ball after it rebounded off the RailHawks midfielder’s boot.

The trio continued to wreak havoc as Osaki turned the ball over and advanced it to Novo, and then ahead to Shipalane.

Shipalane entered the box and unleashed a 12-yard boot from right side that N’Djock had eyes on and punched beyond the goal line.

On the ensuing corner kick, Novo headed the ball over the crossbar and the score remained 0-0 into the 27th minute of play.

Minnesota’s best scoring chance in the half came on a point-blank shot from Campos on the right post that Fitzerald stopped after United threaded the ball through a number of RailHawks defenders.

Another dangerous sequence inside a crowded 18 was successfully defended by the RailHawks and included a stop by Fitzgerald on an attempted header towards the goal.

Both teams went to their locker rooms still scoreless following the first 45 minutes of play.

It didn’t take long for Minnesota to break the deadlock as Banks’ shot from 12 yards out deflected off a RailHawks defender and gave the visitors a 1-0 lead.

Carolina continued to press as Blake volleyed a ball inside the box to Novo who was bumped off the ball which allowed N’Djock to gain possession accordingly.

Novo tied the game 1-1 in the 80th minute with a header from the penalty kick spot.

A perfectly placed cross from Shipalane just outside the right side of the box found the Carolina forward wide open to redirect the ball past a diving N’Djock.

Carolina continued to carry its momentum forward with continued attacks and chances to take the lead as the match continued into the 82nd minute.

The RailHawks faced an additional challenge five minutes later when Novo was assessed a red card following a slide tackle on Juliano Vicentini while challenging for the ball.

“It’s never (wasn’t) a red card,” Novo said.

“I just went for the ball with no intention to hurt anybody…He (the referee) said I go from behind which is not really…when the player is turning, I just go lateral-wise and slide to hit the ball.”

Following the game, Clarke stated that he thought the play justified a yellow, but not a red card booking, one that would keep the RailHawks striker out of the team’s next game.

“I saw a bad refereeing decision,” Clark said.

Playing with 10 men, the RailHawks didn’t slow their momentum in defending their end closely while also coming close to scoring.

However, the final result with extra time still ended with a tie between the two sides.

“In the second half, we were a better side,” Novo concluded.

With a month break, Carolina will continue to train throughout in order to prepare for a rigorous 20-game Fall schedule.

The RailHawks return to play on July 4th when they host Minnesota again on July 4th.

“We’ve gotta’ do some hard work in these next four, five weeks to be better goin’ into the Fall Season,” Clarke said.

“It’s gonna’ be a long, hard slog…It doesn’t take a whole lot between winnin’ and losin’. We need to start that second season well and give ourselves confidence and momentum as we move through.”

BOX SCORE – MATCH CENTER (NASL)

LINEUPS:

CAR: Fitzgerald; Low, Knight, Tobin (C), Wagner (Catic, 76th), Danso; Hlavaty, Thompson, Shipalane, Osaki (Dell, 45th); Novo;

MIN: N’Djock; Davis, Dias, Calvano; Pitchkolan (C), Venegas, Ibson, Mendes (Alhassan, 81st), Vicenti; Campos (Ramirez, 66th), Banks (Moura, 86th)

GOALS: CAR: Novo (80th); MIN: Banks (48th)

CAUTIONS: CAR: –; MIN: —

EJECTIONS: CAR: Novo (87th); MIN: —