ST. PETERSBURG — Georgi Hristov, the Rowdies' all-time goals leader, extended that mark with his 59th and Junior Flemmings had a goal and two assists to lead a revamped lineup in Saturday's 3-1 win over Indy Eleven at Al Lang Stadium in front of an announced crowd of 5,378.
Tampa Bay, which went into the match 12th in the USL's 16-team Eastern Conference and with just two wins in its previous 12 games, improved to 7-8-4 (25 points) to move up to 10th and boost its playoff hopes. The top eight teams in the conference make it.
"To get that win, I'm really delighted," said coach Neill Collins, who began the season as a defender and is 3-5-4 since replacing fired Stuart Campbell in May.
The Rowdies, who have had five new starters over the past two games, pressed early and scored twice as the teams combined for three goals in nine minutes that resulted in a 2-1 halftime lead for Tampa Bay. The Rowdies scored their goals seven minutes apart, with forward Flemmings setting up both before adding his own score late in the contest.
"I think we went out there and started pressuring them, and I think it really paid off," Flemmings said. "The main emphasis was just make runs. Just move forward and that makes for a lot of open space."
Said Collins: "We thought there would be more space than usual, and Junior took advantage of that."
In the 12th minute, newcomer Stefano Bonomo converted a nice crossing pass from Flemmings by tucking the ball inside the near left post. Then Hristov headed in his sixth of the season on a deflection in the small box off another Flemmings cross.
Indy got one back in the 20th minute when Eugene Starikov took a feed from Tyler Pasher and beat goalkeeper Cody Mizell to the far right side from a tough angle.
The Rowdies got an insurance goal in the waning minutes with Flemmings heading in his fourth of the season off a Hristov cross.