ST. PETERSBURG — An injury-riddled FC Tampa Bay lineup took another hit before Saturday's match against Carolina when starting defender Andres Arango was a scratch after tweaking his right ankle in practice.
Tampa Bay entered the game at Al Lang Field with backup goalkeeper and Clearwater native Jeff Attinella his first professional start because of Daryl Sattler's season-ending injury in the team's previous game last Saturday.
Assistant coach David Hayes, who started Tampa Bay's first two matches, was inserted into the lineup with Arango out and performed admirably.
The defense as a whole, however, left much to be desired.
Tampa Bay conceded three goals, all lapses in concentration according to Tampa Bay coach Ricky Hill, in a 3-1 loss to Carolina in front of a crowd of 3,325. Since a season-opening victory against Montreal, Tampa Bay has lost two and tied two.
"If I analyze the three goals that they scored, they're three of the cheapest goals that I've ever conceded," Hill said.
Tampa Bay (1-2-2) fell behind after Carolina's Etienne Barbara scored in the 20th minute. Barbara, the NASL player of the month in April, maneuvered between two defenders after receiving a long pass from Stephen Glass and fired a low liner toward the far post that beat an outstretched Attinella (five saves).
Tampa Bay equalized almost immediately. Midfielder Pascal Millien got the ball at the top of the 18-yard box in the 23rd minute and wheeled around the defense to create space. With an open look at goal, Millien bent a shot just inside the left post for Tampa Bay's third goal of the season.
In the second half, Tampa Bay's Warren Ukah flicked a header at the goal from close range but right into the hands of RailHawks keeper Brad Knighton (11 saves).
In the 52nd minute, against the run of play, Carolina (3-1-1) went ahead for good. Barber broke free down the left wing after Tampa Bay's Omar Jarun slipped. Frankie Sanfilippo raced back, but his clearance ricocheted directly to Barber, who slipped a pass across the goal mouth to an open Brian Farber for the RailHawks' second goal.
Carolina clinched the win and the three points in the 76th minute when Barbara's shot deflected off Jarun's back and past Attinella, who was caught going the opposite direction.
"I can't hold Jeff accountable for any of the goals whatsoever," Hill said. "I thought his handling was good, his kicking was good, his positioning was good, distribution was good. Unfortunately for him we've gifted them opportunities from nice looks at goal."