CARY, NC — Gregory Richardson scored the game’s first goal in the 82nd minute and Daniel Paladini tucked in another in extra time to give the RailHawks a 2-0 win in the USL First Division competition.
For a while, it didn’t look like it was going to happen for the Carolina RailHawks on Saturday night. But much like the last time the RailHawks played the Cleveland City Stars at WakeMed Soccer Park, it came together late.
“The way they play, unless you score early, it can be a long night,” said Carolina coach Marin Rennie. “But you have to keep going and going. Our fitness level’s really good, but also, our expectations and belief are really high. I think we go into games expecting we’re going to win and we believe we’re going to win. Even if it’s not happening, we still believe we’re going to win, and that’s a great characteristic to have in a team.”
The RailHawks came out flat and played a rather sedate first half. With the City Stars sitting behind the ball and reluctant to go forward, Carolina couldn’t find a way to break down one the league’s most porous defences (37 goals allowed in 22 games).
The RailHawks started getting forward more in the second half, but it wasn’t until Cleveland’s Alioune Gueye was red carded in the 76th minute that the chances really started coming.
Four minutes after Gueye was sent off, Richardson played Andriy Budnyy into the box. Bush charged off his line and saved Budnyy’s shot, but Richardson followed up the rebound, tackled the ball away from a defender, then hammered a shot from 20 yards past Bush.
“It was a good goal,” Richardson said. “For me, I passed the ball then got to the deflection, the guy is slow so I tried to come at him, and as soon as I came at him I hit it and I was able to score from there.
It was a good goal, good timing. Good goal for getting the lead, especially for the team.”
In the 90th minute, Richardson took a shot from 20 yards that Bush saved initially, but he bobbled it and Paladini jumped on the loose ball and tucked it into the goal.
“I knew Gregory was going to hit it and I basically just followed the bounce,” Paladini said. “He did most of the work. I just tapped it in.”
The RailHawks have a week off before their next flurry of games, which will have the RailHawks play three times in eight days.
They will travel to Vancouver to face the Whitecaps on August 15, and then return to WakeMed Soccer Park to meet the Whitecaps again on August 18 before going to Rochester to face the Rhinos on August 22.
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