The Carolina Railhawks defeated the Fort Lauderdale Strikers 3-1 to move top of the NASL standings. The Strikers took the lead early, when in the 11th minute, Jemal Johnson slotted the ball in the left side net just out of reach of Akira Fitzgerald. Carolina had plenty of chances though and were awarded a penalty in the 25th minute after a handball by the Strikers. Captain Floyd Franks but the ball past Goalkeeper Matt Glaeser to bring the Railhawks level. Ten minutes later, Fort Lauderdale captain, Toni Stahl, pulled down Jordan Graye in the box for a second penalty for the night. Brian Shriver took the second penalty and the Railhawks put a second one past Glaeser to make it 2-1 in just the first half. In the 58th minute, Tiyi Shipalane found Shriver in the box who had a fantastic volley saved by Matt Glaeser. Glaeser was unable to hold on to it and Shriver put the rebound in the back of the net to make it 3-1. Shriver had a few more chances and almost had his hadtrick, but ran out of time. The win moves the Carolina Railhawks to the top of the table and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers into last place. The Railhawks next game is away to Minnesota United FC on May 4th.
Back this week for the Railhawks was centerback Paul Hamilton, who was suspended last week for receiving a red in the Railhawks home opener. Unfortunately, even with Hamilton starting the Railhawks defense started off shaky, conceding an early goal to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. In the 11th minute, Jemal Johnson beat Akira Fitzgerald with a low shot into the side netting making it 0-1 in favor of the Strikers.
Moments before the Fort Lauderdale goal, Captain Floyd Franks missed by inches with a rocket that beat keeper Matt Glaeser, but hit the post (see picture below).
After the goal, the game seemed fairly even with both teams having chances. Worrisome to the Railhawks is that Akira Fitzgerald had to make some big saves. In the 25th minute the Railhawks were able to put the ball in the back of the net after a deflection. The player (Zack Schilawski?) who put it in the back of the net was offsides, however. Luckily, the ball was deflected off a Fort Lauderdale hand before reaching him and the nice referee decided a penalty was in order. For his protest, Captain Toni Stahl was awarded a yellow card. Floyd Franks stepped up to take the kick and put it a past Striker goalkeeper Matt Glaeser, who guessed the wrong way (picture below).
Only ten minutes later, after fairly even play, Fort Lauderdale captain, Toni Stahl, pulled down Jordan Graye in the box for a second penalty (pictures below). Stahl was lucky not to get his second yellow of the night. Brian Shriver stepped up to take the kick. Since Franks penalty went so well, Shriver followed suit and placed the ball in the exact same spot, to the left and past Glaeser, making it 2-1 in the Railhawk’s favor.
The rest of the first half seemed tame, with the exception of an incredible 1-1 save in the 38th minute by Akira Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald stood tall and kept Fort Lauderdale from equalizing after the Railhawk defense broke down.
The second half saw Fitzgerald making more saves for the Railhawks, but the the Railhawk offense was able to get the job done. In the 58th minute Tiyi Shipalane crossed the ball to Brian Shriver who volleyed it towards Matt Glaeser. Glaeser was able to come up with a big save, but unfortunately for him he was not able to hang on to the ball. As it rolled free, Shriver followed up and put it in the back of the net to make in 3-1 Railhawks.
With a two goal cushion the Railhawks were never really in any danger after the 3rd goal.The Fort Lauderdale Strikers were unable to answer, despite several free kicks in the 25 yard range. Fitzgerald continued making good saves, with his best coming in the 87th minute after a Striker’s free kick. Fitzgerald got his hands to the ball and pushed it up and over the net for a Fort Lauderdale corner (picture below). With the Railhawk’s man of the match every week being the keeper, Akira Fitzgerald, it’s clear their is a huge problem defensively for the Railhawks.
The Railhawks entered the game tonight in second place behind the the reigning NASL champions, the Tampa Bay Rowdies. A Rowdies loss tonight to the Atlanta Silverbacks, combined with the Railhawks’ win puts the Railhawks atop the NASL table (the Silverbacks have a game in hand, as do Minnesota United FC). Still injured is Nick Zimmerman, the 2nd highest scorer in the 2012 NASL season, and new signing Nicholas Addlery. The Railhawks’ next game is against Minnesota United FC in Minnesota on May 4th.