By JEFF HERNDEN
I think the best, simple summation for this match is “good performance, poor result.” Mind you, these words have been able to describe several Rowdies matches this season. With a tough three-match road trip coming up at Richmond, Pittsburgh, and conference-leading Charleston, the Rowdies need to be turning good performances in to three points more.
Head Coach Stuart Campbell was forced in to a couple of changes to his starting XI due to Georgi Hristov being suspended due to yellow card accumulation, and midfielder Justin Chavez still out through injury.
Campbell stuck with his familiar 4-2-3-1 formation, with Martin Paterson earning a deserved start up front, as well as Keith Savage coming in to midfield, moving Marcel Schäfer to left-back, replacing Luke Boden, who moved to the bench.
The Rowdies started the match on the front foot, where they remained for about 80 of the 90 minutes. Rochester’s defensive style contributed to Campbell’s squad dominating possession throughout the match. If not for some heroic saves from goalkeeper Matt Pickens, uncharacteristic defensive errors and a few midfield giveaways could’ve cost the Rowdies the match. Despite those errors, the Rowdies defense still limited Rochester to only two shots on target from open play, with the other three coming from free kicks.
Against the Rhinos, Tampa Bay’s possession was more purposeful than it has been in previous matches, but they still need to do more to create quality scoring chances in the final third. Credit to Campbell for going for the win and changing formation late in to what seemed to be a 4-4-2, with Deshorn Brown replacing Savage for the final fifteen minutes, but it wasn’t enough. With Pickens’ huge saves in goal, the Rowdies salvaged a point, but on the whole, this match should be considered two points dropped.
Manager rating: 7/10 — Overall team rating: 6.5/10
Matt Pickens (GK): Man of the Match performance from Pickens. With as much possession as the Rowdies have, it would have been easy for Pickens to lose concentration and switch off. But he kept his cool, making saves and parrying any rebounds in to defensible areas. The only knock would be better communication with Collins for the first goal, but you can hardly put the blame for that on Pickens’ shoulders. Excellent game. Player rating: 9/10
Marcel Schäfer (LB): Excellent ball in to provide the assist for Cole’s goal. When he’s at left back, the Rowdies need to do more to get him involved in the attack and creating chances from crosses. Schäfer was sound defensively, as always. Player rating: 7/10
Neill Collins (CB): A night to forget for Collins. His error led to the first goal, a foul that got him a yellow card led to a free kick shot on target, and a bad giveaway in the 83rd minute nearly led to a match winner for the Rhinos if not for a fine save from Pickens. For much of the rest of the match, Collins was his usual self, winning headers, getting a header on target and blocking shots. He needs to forget about this one and come back strong at Richmond. Player rating: 4/10
Damion Lowe (CB): Strong return to the starting XI after a couple matches out. Lowe was the night’s best defender. Made several interceptions to break up counter attacks and even got himself forward on a few occasions. Player rating: 7/10
Kyle Porter (RB): Much the same as last weekend’s match at Charlotte. Quiet night for Porter, but did his job. No major contributions or glaring errors. Solid defensively. Player rating: 6/10
Michael Nanchoff (DM): Nanchoff might be the only Rowdies player to be continually improving in his performance with every match. He was excellent in distribution, moving the ball forward with his long and short passing. Excellent threaded pass began the Rowdies best move of the second half, resulting in Cole’s near miss in the 60th minute. Also came up with a huge sliding block following a Pickens save in the 70th minute. Player rating: 8.5/10
Keith Savage (DM, Subbed off 75′ – Brown): Based upon his recent performances, Savage deserved to start this one. Overall had a solid performance in midfield, and nearly picked up an assist when Cole missed wide after the Rowdies excellent move on the hour mark. However also made the errant pass in the 70th minute that led to a Pickens save and Nanchoff block. Subbed off for the final quarter hour as the Rowdies pushed for the win. Player rating: 6.5/10
Leo Fernandes (LW): A good performance from Fernandes. Had three shots off target, including a rocket in the 27th minute that missed the upper 90 by mere inches. Also put in a few crosses. Needed to do more on the dribble, taking players on. For a winger, he did not create enough quality scoring chances for his teammates. Player rating: 7/10
© Joe Cole (CM): Scored one and really should have had a second. Overall Cole had an excellent match and is in the MOTM conversation along with Pickens and Nanchoff. He won some important fouls, got touches in the box and created chances for teammates. Seemed to to taper off for the final 15 minutes as he tired. Morrell perhaps should have come on for Cole instead of Jones. Player rating: 7.5/10
Darwin Jones (RW, Subbed off 73′ – Morrell): Curiously subbed off , Jones seemed to have plenty of gas left in the tank at the time he was subbed. I understand wanting to bring on Morrell’s fresh legs and wanting to keep Cole’s creativity on the pitch, but Cole’s effectiveness declines in the late stages of the match. Jones had contributed two shots on target along with one chance created. Should have stayed on. Player rating: 6.5/10
Martin Paterson (F): Lively, energetic and one of the hardest working players on the pitch. That said, for playing the full 90, and with all of the possession the Rowdies had, Paterson did not get enough touches in the attacking third, with only one in the opposition penalty box, and zero shots. This is not enough for a center forward. The Rowdies need to do more to create scoring chances for their forwards. Player rating: 6.5/10
Alex Morrell (DM, Subbed on 73′ – Jones): Morrell needs to get more playing time. He is energetic, takes players on the dribble, and creates chances. Excellent effort to keep the ball in play in the 85th minute to keep the attack alive and earn the Rowdies an excellent corner. Player rating 7/10
Deshorn Brown (F, Subbed on 75′): Contributed two shots in his 15 minutes of time, including a spectacular bicycle attempt that went far wide. He got involved, but not enough quality chances. I would like to see more of Brown playing together up front with Paterson. Brown providing the target, and Paterson the energy. Player rating: 7/10