The Tampa Bay Rowdies made it three straight victories by beating Ottawa Fury FC 2-1 on Saturday night in their final home game of the NASL Spring Season as Joe Cole produced another impressive performance for Stuart Campbell's side.
The former Aston Villa playmaker, who joined the Rowdies from Coventry City last month, scored one and set up another in last weekend's 2-0 win at Minnesota United FC 2-0 to earn the NASL Player of the Week award, and he was once again in the thick of the action against Ottawa, providing the assist for Georgi Hristov's second-half winner.
Hristov had given Tampa Bay the lead in 20th-minute with a neat chip over Fury FC goalkeeper Romuald Peiser, but the visitors equaliser three minutes after the break when Carl Howarth pounced on Mauro Eustaquio’s rebounded shot.
The hosts were back in front just three minutes later, though, as Cole dribbled through the opposition defence before teeing up his Bulgarian teammate for the finish with a neat through ball.
Joe Cole doing Joe Cole things...— Tampa Bay Rowdies (@TampaBayRowdies) June 5, 2016
Check out his assist on last night's game-winning goal. pic.twitter.com/Z39JFrb5Dx
The ex-England international later had a chance to make it 3-1 on the hour mark with a shot that Ottawa right-back Lance Rozeboom appeared to block with his hand, but Hristov’s brace proved enough in the end to secure the Rowdies all three points.
The result moved the club up to third place in the table on 15 points, leaving them sitting three behind league leaders New York Cosmos ahead of their 10th and final Spring Season fixture at Jacksonville Armada FC next weekend.
It was also their third straight victory in the space of only eight days following Wednesday night’s 1-0 US Open Cup win over FC Cincinnati and aforementioned Minnesota match, with Cole missing just 12 minutes of action across the three games.
"It's been good," head coach Campbell told rowdiessoccer.com on the team’s recent run of results. "I've said it all season. The guys come in day in and day out and the attitude and application from the guys has been superb.
“We haven't quite had a couple calls go our way. If we had them, we'd be right up there. Credit to the guys because they haven't been disappointed, they've been frustrated and they come every day to set things right."
Cole previously played 22 times for Coventry this past season after joining the Sky Blues from Aston Villa last October on an initial loan deal which was later made permanent, recording two goals and six assists for the League One side.
The former West Ham United and Chelsea star’s deal with the Rowdies runs through to the end of the 2017 season, with a club option for 2018, but he has revealed that he could return to the Ricoh Arena on loan next winter once the NASL campaign ends.
“Who’s to say that that’s the end of the story?” Cole told the Coventry Observer before his move to the US. “I’m coming back from America for three-four months, I’ve spoken to the gaffer and although it’s a long way off, a lot can happen between now and then but I’m comfortable at Coventry.”