The Fort Lauderdale Strikers appeared to be on their way to earning a draw against the Atlanta Silverbacks in front of a sold out crowd of 5,402 fans at Silverbacks Park, until Atlanta goals in the 86th and 88th minutes undid a strong away effort. The Strikers (0-1-1) will next travel to face the Carolina RailHawks on April 20, before returning to Lockhart Stadium on April 27 for their next home match against the rival Tampa Bay Rowdies.
“It was inexcusable on our end to allow a goal in the 86th minute like that,” said Strikers head coach Daryl Shore. "We’ve got to do better in our attacking third. We had a couple of chances today but we didn’t put the ball in the net. You can’t win games if you don’t score goals."
A pair of defenders combined to open the scoring for Atlanta. Beto Navarro beat Strikers captain Toni Ståhl to a long throw from Shane Moroney, stretching to redirect the ball past Matt Glaeser with his right foot.
The Strikers potential comeback was stopped less than two minutes later as Milton Blanco picked up the ball in midfield before slipping Danny Barrera through on goal. The attacking midfielder scored on a difficult shot as he beat Glaeser from a tight angle.
Despite the loss, Fort Lauderdale started the match the stronger of the two sides, testing goalkeeper Joe Nasco on two occasions. The side was boosted by the return of playmaker Walter Restrepo who made his first start for the Strikers since Aug. 11, 2012 after suffering an ACL tear last season.
The game also saw the return of 2012 NASL Best XI player Mark Anderson for the Strikers. The midfielder entered the game in the 66th minute, and had a chance to give the Strikers the lead in the 80th minute, but his free kick opportunity was hit into the Atlanta wall.
The Strikers continue on the road with a match against the Carolina RailHawks on Saturday, April 20. The RailHawks are at the top of the NASL standings following a 2-1 victory over FC Edmonton.
The Strikers return home on April 27th to take on the rival Tampa Bay Rowdies in a Florida Derby match up. Tickets can be purchased on Strikers.com or by calling 954-606-0400.
Fort Lauderdale Strikers (4-2-3-1)- Matt Glaeser; Darnell King, Shavar Thomas, Toni Ståhl (c), Scott Gordon; Carlos Salazar (Rubens 89), Pecka; Jemal Johnson (Mark Anderson 66), Walter Restrepo, David Foley; Stefan Dimitrov (Andy Herron 74)
Atlanta Silverbacks (4-2-3-1)- Joe Nasco; Mark Bloom, Martyn Lancaster (c), Beto Navarro, Shane Moroney; Richie Menjivar, Milton Blanco; Borfor Carr, Danny Barrera, Pedro Mendes; Ruben Luna (Brad Stisser 66)
ATL- Beto Navarro 1 (Shane Moroney 1)- 86'
ATL- Danny Barrera 1 (Milton Blanco 1)- 88'
Photo by Ron Holt