ST. PETERSBURG — The Florida soccer rivalry between Tampa Bay and Fort Lauderdale produced a number of records for the home team Wednesday.
First, the match drew 4,710 spectators to Al Lang Field, the largest crowd over the past two seasons to watch a Rowdies game at the converted baseball stadium in downtown St. Petersburg.
Then, forward Tsuyoshi Yoshitake scored for the fourth game in a row, the second Tampa Bay player to do so since the team's return in 2010. (Aaron King scored goals in five games in a row last season.)
And, most important, the Rowdies produced their first four-game winning streak since the team's reincarnation.
Yoshitake broke open a 1-all tie in the second half with a long-distance goal, and forward Daniel Antoniuk scored his fifth goal of the season late to lead the Rowdies to a 3-1 victory.
"We have a week and a half off, so we wanted to go into the next few days with a good taste in our mouth," forward Mike Ambersley said. "… We showed a lot of character coming back from a goal down."
For the third time in four games, the Rowdies (7-5-3, 24 points) allowed the opposition to score first in the opening half before rallying. Fort Lauderdale (5-6-4, 19 points) took advantage of a lethargic start from the Rowdies to score in the 19th minute, Andy Herron sliding a rebound inside the far post.
Ambersley tied it in the 30th minute. Forward Fafa Picault centered the ball into the box for Ambersley, who sent a left-footed poke past goalkeeper Matt Glaeser (six saves). In seven games against the Strikers, Ambersley has five goals and has assisted on four other goals.
"It was a great equalizer created by Fafa and excellently finished by Mike," Rowdies coach Ricky Hill said.
After the break, the Rowdies rolled. Yoshitake scored his team-leading sixth goal of the season with a dipping volley from 25 yards away in the 67th minute. The goal was set up by a one-touch flick from Ambersley ahead to second-half substitute Antoniuk, who found Yoshitake alone in the middle of the field.
"That finish was exceptional, any standard of the game at any time," Hill said. "… That shows a player in supreme confidence and belief he's going to score every time he shoots."
The Rowdies gained a man advantage in the 79th minute when the Strikers' Emilio Orozco picked up his second yellow card.
Six minutes later, Antoniuk finished a 4-on-3 break for the Rowdies' final score, one-touching Ambersley's pass from the left edge into the open goal.
With the win, the Rowdies remain unbeaten at home against Fort Lauderdale since 2010, and they earn nine points during their now-completed, season-long, three-game homestand.