Crystal Palace Baltimore was unable to pull an upset over the first place Rochester Rhinos Wednesday night at Ridley Athletic Complex. An own goal from Dan Lader in the 78th minute, coupled with an insurance marker from Adam West in stoppage time, gave the visitors a 2-0 victory, keeping them at the top of the table with a 13-5-6 record. With the defeat, Baltimore remains two points adrift of the playoff places, with a record of 6-11-6.
Scoring chances were hard to come by in the first quarter hour of the match. Rochester survived a scare in the 18th minute, as Pat Healey’s pass into the box deflected off a Rhino defender, but goalkeeper Neil Kitson was able to safely grasp the ball. Three minutes later, the Rhinos created some good passing work between Jamie Franks and Isaac Kissi, but their target, Ian Bennett, was unable to get a shot on net.
On 31 minutes, Palace avoided a scare of their own, as a long clearance bounced towards Kissi. Evan Bush came off of his line to gather the ball, but bobbled it, almost allowing Kissi to break free on an empty goal.
The second half again saw both sides looking to create a perfect play to open the scoring. In the 51st minute, Jonathan Greenfield maneuvered well through the Baltimore defense, but his rifled shot from 20 yards was directed straight at Bush. Neto countered for Palace two minutes before the hour, as he swooped down the right side of the pitch. His well-timed cross found Healey inside the box, but referee Jeff Gontarek whistled the play dead for a handball by the midfielder.
Baltimore’s best chance to strike came on 64 minutes, as Paul Robson lead the charge on the left flank. He delivered a well-weighted ball for Santiago Fusilier, who moved inside the box and fired at goal. His shot swerved to the right and struck the crossbar, leaving Palace without a goal to their name. Rochester almost answered one minute later, as Tyler Rosenlund delivered a pass to Ryan Heins, who had space to get off a decent effort. However, a well-timed slide tackle by Shaun Pejic left the Rhinos begging once again.
The final 15 minutes of the match would ultimately decide this contest. In the 75th, Andrew Marshall’s pass was intercepted by Kissi, but his tame effort was easily saved by Bush. The Rhinos would get their first goal three minutes later. As Rochester moved inside the box, a shot from a tight angle came off the leg of Dan Lader, who could only collapse to the pitch in agony after the ball went straight into his own net.
Baltimore had to quickly regroup and answer with an equalizer, and they almost had one in the last minute of regulation time, but Tsuyoshi Yoshitake sailed his 25-yard free kick wide right of Kitson’s net. Greenfield almost secured the victory for the visitors just as stoppage time began, but his effort trickled wide right. Lader had one last chance to atone for his earlier blunder with a minute to play, but his optimistic 40-yarder missed the far post by a few feet. Rochester would ultimately ice the game with seconds to spare, as Adam West slotted home the Rhinos’ second goal of the evening.
Palace will finish their short two-game homestand against the Montreal Impact on Saturday, August 21. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:00 pm at the Paul Angelo Russo Stadium in Towson.
Goals: Rochester Rhinos – Dan Lader (own goal, 78′), Adam West (90’+2)
Yellow Cards: Rochester Rhinos – Tyler Bellamy (44′); Crystal Palace Baltimore – Dan Lader (34′)
Shots: Rochester Rhinos – 6, Crystal Palace Baltimore – 4
Saves: Rochester Rhinos – 1, Crystal Palace Baltimore – 1
Corners: Rochester Rhinos – 0, Crystal Palace Baltimore – 2
Fouls: Rochester Rhinos – 14, Crystal Palace Baltimore – 12
Offsides: Rochester Rhinos – NA, Crystal Palace Baltimore – NA