Parker’s saves, Cox’s goal help 10-man FCE overcome the Strikers By Steven Sandor Posted on June 10, 2012 2 0 513 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter FCE vs. FTL: What's a little rain? Down a man in a driving rainstorm, all of the ingredients looked to be in place for FC Edmonton to drop more points on the Clarke Stadium turf. But thanks to some inspired goalkeeping from Lance Parker — which included a penalty save — and a lovely second-half combination play that led to Michael Cox’s goal, the Eddies broke a two-game home winless streak with a gritty 1-0 decision over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Sunday. Like so often happens in the game of soccer, the team that spurns the chances loses the game. And the Strikers could have had a two- or three-goal lead by halftime. But, thanks to fluffed lines from the Strikers’ forwards and some inspired keeping from Parker, the visitors couldn’t find a goal. And, then the Eddies — wearing their throwback orange Drillers jerseys — struck in the second half, with an inspired long diagonal ball from Ilja Van Leerdam finding Shaun Saiko on the right side. Despite being up a man, the Strikers couldn’t close down Saiko, and he sent a perfect low ball into the box for Cox — who came on as halftime sub for the injured Paul Craig — to sidefoot into the goal. Cox, playing as the lone striker, was a handful through the second half, using a mix of power and pace to trouble the Strikers. “I have to say nice things about Cox, not only because he scored the goal, but because he was winning the battles and holding up the ball,” said FCE coach Harry Sinkgraven. But a week after he said his FCE team didn’t compete hard enough in a 2-1 loss to the last-place Atlanta Silverbacks, the Eddies showed a lot of fight. And they needed to, after a controversial decision saw Antonio Rago sent off halfway through the first half. Matt Lam, in orange, takes control of the ball. PHOTO: TONY LEWIS/FC EDMONTON A long ball sent Strikers’ forward Abe Thompson into a one-on-one battle with Rago. The Eddies’ defender put his shoulder into Thompson and got the ball with his foot, but was ruled to have committed a professional last-man-back foul. So, instead of a corner kick, Fort Lauderdale got a penalty, and Rago got his walking papers. “Antonio wanted to help and used his shoulder,” said Sinkgraven. “It was a very, very tough call and red card. It was not a penalty.” But Parker and Thompson previously played together in Miami, and the keeper predicted that Thompson would go low to the corner with his shot, trying to skip the ball on the turf that had been soaked by driving rain. Parker guessed correctly and made the save. That came just minutes after Thompson had squandered another chance, after he made a poor first touch in front of goal which saw the ball bounce up in the air, when all he needed to do was sidefoot Scott Lorenz’s pass into an open goal. But Parker wasn’t done with his first-half heroics, as he later robbed Strikers’ sub Aly Hassan from point-blank range after a nice passing buildup from the visitors. But Parker anticipated the pass across the box to Hassan, raced out and took away the angle. But, because of the way the Strikers moved the ball around on that chance, you could argue it was a better save than the penalty. “Today was a year to the day since I broke my arm,” Parker said of the compound fracture suffered at Foote Field against the Carolina RailHawks that ended his 2011 season and delayed his entry into the 2012 campaign. “So that makes it a great victory for me.” A nagging injury to forward Yashir Pinto forced him to the subs’ bench. And, defender Kevin Hatchi hurt his quad in training Saturday and wasn’t available. So, Sinkgraven was forced to use midfielder Chris Kooy as an emergency centre back alongside Paul Hamilton. And, when Rago was sent off, Matt Lam moved out of the attack to play as an emergency right back. But, in the second half, FCE gave up very little, despite the makeshift backline. Ilja Van Leerdam and Kenny Caceros put in tackle after tackle, and Kyle Porter, who started up front, also got stuck in at the back to help defend the lead. The visitors were forced to replace striker (and MLS veteran) Andy Herron early in the match. Herron was stretchered off after a 50-50 challenge with Hamilton in the FCE penalty area.