ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. --- FC Cincinnati was unable to overcome two first-half goals by Tampa Bay and a near two-hour delay due to lightning as the Orange and Blue suffered their first loss since June 3 with a 2-0 decision Thurs. night at Al Lang Stadium. FCC dropped to 5-6-6 overall and 1-5-2 on the road.
The game, which began at 8:00 p.m. ET, was stopped with three minutes of stoppage time in the first half due to lightning and the teams would resume play at 10:49 p.m. After playing the determined stoppage time, the teams switched fields and immediately began the second half of play.
FCC trailed in the 39th minute after Martin Paterson slipped the ball to Alex Morell, who cut back inside and found Paterson in the near corner for a goal from the six-yard box.
The deficit widened to two in the 44th minute. Mitch Hildebrandt made the initial save on a shot by Morrell but Joe Cole tracked down the rebound and put the ball into the back of the net to complete the scoring.
After the long wait, FCC came out the aggressor, using a 53-percent possession advantage to out-shoot Tampa Bay 9-4 in the second half.
Jimmy McLaughlin sparked FCC, coming off the bench to take two shots, including one in the 75th minute that swerved just right of the goal. The midfielder challenged Tampa Bay goalie Matt Pickens a second time in the 83rd, capitalizing on a miscommunication by the Tampa Bay defenders to slice a shot across the mouth of the goal.
Djiby started the second half for FCC and immediately made his presence known, heading a service from Kenney Walker in the 50th minute that forced Pickens to dive to his right to punch the ball away. The striker had four shots in the half with his last effort coming in the 90th minute that was handled by Pickens.
FCC nearly conceded a third goal in the 51st minute as a clearance attempt by FCC put the ball in front of the goal for Georgi Hristov, who was unable to get a solid shot off and instead dribbled the ball to Hildebrandt who scooped it up readily.
Josu had a strong defensive effort for FCC, breaking up a charge by Morrell in the 61st minute, catching up with the forward who was sprinting towards the goal, forcing him out of the FCC box and then winning an FCC throw-in.
In the first half, it was Tampa Bay who mounted an early attack with Marcel Schäefer and Paterson taking a pair of shots that sailed high.
Kadeem Dacres was an offensive spark in the 11th minute for FCC as he challenged Pickens with a left-footed shot but had it knocked down for a save.
It was Dacres again in the 18th minute for the Orange and Blue as a Tampa Bay defender looked to clear the ball from the box. However, Dacres’ sprint pulled him even and he was able to deflect the clearance, driving the ball back to Pickens, who was forced to go to the ground to make a save.
Hildebrandt made nine saves in the losing effort for FCC. The team returns to Nippert Stadium to host Richmond Kickers this Sun., at 6:00 p.m.
39th – TBR: Martin Paterson (Alex Morrell)
44th – TBR: Joe Cole
FCC: Mitch Hildebrandt, Austin Berry, Paul Nicholson, Garrett Halfhill, Justin Hoyte, Kenney Walker, Aodhan Quinn, Josu, Kadeem Dacres, Danni König, Andrew Wiedeman
TBR: Matt Pickens, Darnell King, Tamika Mkandawire, Neill Collins, Zac Portillos, Keith Savage, Marcel Schäfer, Joe Cole, Alex Morrell, Martin Paterson, Georgi Hristov