ST. PETERSBURG — Deshorn Brown's scissor-kick goal right before halftime held up as the Tampa Bay Rowdies ended a three-game winless stretch, defeating Richmond 1-0 Saturday before 4,829 at Al Lang Stadium.
With the three teams entering the weekend ahead of Tampa Bay all failing to win, the Rowdies (4-2-1, 13 points) are back atop the USL's Eastern Conference, tied with Charleston.
A highlight finish by Brown was enough against a Richmond side that only managed three goals from five outings. He made his first start of the season and played the full 90 minutes.
"It was purely tactical. We knew that they had a couple of big center backs, that were really strong. I felt we needed somebody that could match their physicality so we started Deshorn," said coach Stuart Campbell.
Brown got the nod as the lone forward over leading scorer Georgi Hristov, who came on as a sub just past the hour mark.
With the half nearly up, and the Rowdies sustaining possession but not capitalizing, they received what Campbell called a "moment of brilliance" from Brown. Marcel Schafer, starting at the back for Luke Boden (illness), pressed up plenty including taking the corner kicks. His run-of-play service from the left side was intended for fellow defender Darnell King but instead found a Richmond defender, who essentially lofted a pass back across the penalty area.
Brown sized up the floater, and went airborne to strike it into the lower left corner of the goal.
"It was difficult for me to head it, I like doing bicycle kicks. I just made up my mind, go for it, and I get a goal," he said.
The Rowdies took a defensive stance in the second half.
Tampa Bay heads to Ottawa next Saturday afternoon to start a stretch of 10 games with only three at home. The Rowdies have played five of their first seven at Al Lang, going 4-1.
Though entering the week tied for last place among the USL's 15 Eastern Conference teams, Ottawa pulled off a 2-2 draw with first-place Charleston on Saturday. But for an 84th-minute equalizer from Charleston, Tampa Bay would be alone in first. Technically Charleston holds the top spot due to last week's head-to-head win, and having played one fewer game.
Near the end of the game, Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens was all over a potentially tricky deflection.
Damion Lowe provided strong defense, using his speed to swallow two Richmond threats in the first half.
"He was exceptional. He was a man mountain back there," Campbell said.