::Carolina Railhawks Tie Atlanta, Win Cup
By Marco Rosa, Carolina Railhawks
Saturday, August 18, 2007
CARY - The Carolina RailHawks hosted the Atlanta Silverbacks to a scoreless tie on Friday night at SAS Soccer Park in Cary in front of a crowd of 5,330 fans.
The match was the final fixture in the Southern Derby Cup, a tournament created by fans to promote friendly rivalries among teams in the South, and the Railhawks came away with their first piece of hardware of their inaugural season.
The RailHawks were definitely the stronger team but were not able to capitalize on the many scoring chances on a night that saw the return of David Stokes to the lineup after being sidelined with an injury since July 20th. Kevin Jeffrey started right away trying to take over a loose ball in the box but was called offside in the 2nd minute.
"It feels great to be back," said David Stokes. "I am healthy now and I just need to get to a higher fitness level but it is still great to be able to play again."
In the 8th minute Frankie Sanfilippo was tripped right outside the 18 yard box for a free kick. Kupono Low took the shot that bounce on the inside of the crossbar right outside the line and was cleared by Omar Jarun. Only three minutes later hat trick hero Connally Edozien tried to head the ball in but was saved by Atlanta goalkeeper Ryan McIntosh.
"We played well tonight," said Carolina Head Coach Scott Schweitzer. "We played against a team that had the luxury to play for one point when we needed all three but we are still in the running for the playoffs. We created some good chances and played well defensively and now we look to play for the win in the next match."
The first half continued with the RailHawks racking up the shots when Connally Edozien blasted a right footed rocket just to the right of Atlanta's goal, but the Silverbacks tried to retaliate with Macoumba Kendji and Machel Millwood and a pair of scoring chances that really put Chris McClellan to the test.
Both teams made some adjustments at the half with Atlanta wanting to slow down the pace of the game and leave the score at 0-0; and the Railhawks adding Jonny Steele to the lineup to create more chances and add some speed. Atlanta's Daniel Antoniuk almost got through the RailHawks defense on a breakaway but Chad Dombrowski was right there to clear the ball on the 18 yard line.
"We are at a point in the season where we could afford to play conservatively," said Atlanta Head Coach Jason Smith. "I think the RailHawks played very well and had quite a few chances but we also created some especially later in the game. We also needed to avoid serious injuries with the playoffs coming up."
Machel Millwood had the best chance for the Silverbacks in the 55th minute when he blasted a ball towards the goal forcing McClellan to deflect the ball over the bar. The RailHawks responded immediately with Joel Bailey who stole a ball and ran with it but got too close to the end line before crossing it into the middle of the box.
The game ended the same way it started with the RailHawks not giving up until the end searching for the elusive three points and a great shot, in the 87th minute, by McColm Cephas after a 1-2 with Chad Dombrowski saved by McIntosh with difficulty.
With the playoffs still a possibility, the Carolina RailHawks will host the Montreal Impact as they return to the pitch on Sunday August 26th at 6:00 PM for the second to last home game of the regular season. On Saturday September 1st the RailHawks will host the Portland Timbers before going on the road for the US Open Cup semifinal match against the New England Revolution on Tuesday September 4th in New Britain, CT.