WEB/BAYAMÓN, P.R.—The Puerto Rico Islanders (3-1-0, 10 pts.) continued their fast start to the NASL season by downing the Carolina RailHawks (0-3-1, 3 points) by a score of 3-1 at Bayamón Soccer Complex in Puerto Rico. The RailHawks’ first loss this year came with manager Colin Clarke’s return to the club he coached the past five seasons before leaving for Carolina.
Brian Ackley and Chris Nurse, both suspended for last Wednesday’s tie at Tampa Bay, received their first starts of the year. However, Carolina’s backline remained the same…for better and worse. In the 27th minute, Kupono Low was whistled for a handball penalty, and Islanders’ striker David Foley calmly converted the PK to give the home side the early lead.
Two minutes later, Puerto Rico expanded their advantage when a cleared RailHawks corner kick found a streaking Jonathan Faña. Faña torched Carolina’s hapless defenders before laying the ball off to Richard Martinez for a sublime right-netter from distance.
After intermission, the RailHawks abandoned an inexplicable predilection for long balls that afforded the visitors only two first-half shot attempts. Carolina began to allow their attackers to link-up, and the change paid quick dividends. With Carolina pressing forward, Islanders goalkeeper Richard Martin botched a punch-out in the 50th minute, allowing Brian Shriver to put a boot to the rebound that deflected off defender Jay Needham for an own goal, cutting the lead to 2-1.
Two minutes later, Carolina nearly scored again when Shriver delivered a cross past the face of goal to a charging Ackley. However, the striker could not catch up to the surefire sitter.
With Carolina’s offense now on its front foot, the defense suffered its worst breakdown of the game in the 55th minute. Four RailHawks sought to close down a streaking Faña, who obligingly laid the ball off to an unmarked Nick Addlery atop the box. One of the best striker’s in D2 soccer had no problem depositing the ball past Carolina keeper Ray Burse to account for the final tally.
The RailHawks next two matches are back at WakeMed Soccer Park, starting with a face-off with expansion side San Antonio Scorpions this Saturday, April 28. Kickoff is 7 p.m.