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Portillo’s penalty earns Battery a Point

The Battery returned home on Saturday night hoping to regain composure in a bit of an early season slump, and after three of the last four were away from MUSC Health Stadium, it would be the perfect time for a homecoming.

Odisnel Cooper and Dante Marini got their second successive starts respectively, as Alex Tambakis would remain on the bench and Ricky Garbanzo would continue to be eased back in after an injury lay off. Romario Williams would start up front, hoping to continue his run of form on loan from the Montreal Impact, which meant Chris Tsonis would be on the bench in his first taste of the home atmosphere.

The Battery started brightly, with Williams rushing down Battery alum Hunter Gilstrap in goal and blocking a clearance, though the striker couldn’t control. His early press would have an effect on the ‘keeper though, who would struggle with his kicking for the rest of the match.

Attaulah Guerra would be creative on 11 minutes, getting past a few players in the middle and make his way to the edge of the box, before being met by a few different Riverhounds defenders, still keeping his composure and getting the ball back, but his ball from the inside edge of the box could find no one and was cleared.

Perhaps the best chance of the half, and of the match, even, was a speculative ball from Maikel Chang to Romario Williams up top. With no one around him, he latched onto the ball and was clean through as the flag stayed down, but Gilstrap stayed big and made the save.

Shortly before the half hour mark, Maikel Chang’s dangerous cross led to a corner, but it was cleared away and led to nothing.

But on 30 minutes, it was Pittsburgh that got the opener. A long ball was left to bounce and neither Taylor Meuller nor Quinton Griffith could get to it, leaving Riverhounds top scorer Romeo Parkes to slot it past Cooper in goal as he made it 1-0.

Naveal Hackshaw had himself a good day at the office, and was very dominant in the air especially, and on 34, his aerial battle in midfield kickstarted an attack, which found Attaulah Guerra, who had a deft flick of his own to Williams, but his shot was over the bar.

Guerra would have an effort of his own a minute later as the Battery would look to get back into the match quickly, as the off-season signing would trick past a couple players,  and make room for a shot, only to blast wide.

Dante Marini would use his pace to get to the byline with five minutes left in the first half, and setting up Justin Portillo, but his shot was blocked.

So despite having more chances, the Battery went into the half time break down a goal. You could feel the team had a goal in them, but it was up to them to keep their heads and not panic.

Ricky Garbanzo would come on at half time, replacing Attaulah Guerra. Garbanzo is known for his high pressing and can also pop up with a goal or two, and his half of work would go with the quarter of an hour or so he got against Bethlehem as he continued his comeback from injury.

On 55, a great crossfield ball from Hackshaw found Maikel Chang, who would use his tricks to get past a couple players and cut in, and his cross looked dangerous, but was too long for Garbanzo in the middle.

A ball through the middle found Ricky Garbanzo who flicked onto Romario Williams, but he was shoved off the ball and the danger was cleared.

Garbanzo was played through on 62, and his ball to Chang gave him the time to trick past his man and have a go, but his effort was saved and the ball was sent to safety.

But just two minutes later, Justin Portillo would play in a corner, which was dangerous as it whipped into the middle, and Naveal Hackshaw would be wrestled to ground. The referee would give a penalty, and Portillo, who played in the corner, would send Gilstrap the wrong way as he equalized from 12 yards.

With just a little less than 15 left to go, Portillo would again be involved, as his pass would be dummied by Garbanzo to the onrushing Chang, who took a touch and put in a wickedly dangerous cross. This time, Garbanzo would connect, but his effort on the slide would bounce off the inside of the crossbar and out.

Portillo and Chang were again finding each other three minutes later, Chang setting up a short corner, which he played to Portillo. The midfielder would put in a tasty ball toward the back post for Shawn Ferguson, but he jumped too early and the ball hit his shoulder, going behind for a goal kick.

Four minutes from time, it was Obrien Woodbine who would have the final real chance of the match. He got the ball wide and cut in, but his shot was wide of the target.

And so, both teams shared spoils. The Battery could probably say they were the better team, but will lament missed chances on their return home.

The next match is away to the Rochester Rhinos on Friday, May 6th. Kickoff is at 7:05




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