The Jacksonville Armada have ended the Battery’s Cup run on Wednesday night. An early goal from Patrick Otte put the hosts ahead before Chris Tsonis equalized. It took extra time, but Al Keita won it in the 117th minute to take Jacksonville through to the next round
Matt Fondy and Danny Barrow piled on the pressure early for the Armada, as the home side came out the better of the two to start the match, but though both players had a shot each, Odisnel Cooper wasn’t beaten.
That all changed on 17, when Patrick Otte linked up well with a series of flicks on the edge of the box, and with the defenders occupied, took the chance to chip Cooper and make it 1-0. It was deserved, as Jacksonville had been the better side up until that point and it certainly looked as if a goal was on the cards for the home side.
But then, with just the next attack, the Battery were level. The play started with a clearance and ball played down the line to Romario Williams. Williams held off his man and made his way up the touchline before seeing the run of Chris Tsonis, who beat his marker to the ball and tucked away for the equalizer. This is something the Battery had been known for in the past, soaking up pressure and then picking their moments to spring into the attack. The goal was Chris Tsonis’ second in two US Open Cup matches, having scored a late equalizer in the last round.
But on 27, Bryan Burke played a ball long to Matt Fondy, who laid the ball off to Junior Sandoval, but his shot went over the bar.
On 35, it was another good chance for the Battery as Maikel Chang curled a ball in toward the back post for Forrest Lasso. Lasso rose high to meet the ball, and surely meant to head the ball back across, but his effort was saved by the ‘keeper.
The last chance of the first half also fell to the home side, as Brandon Burke got to the byline on the right wing and put in a tantalizing ball looking for Charles Elondou, but the striker missed the ball by inches on the slide.
Junior Sandoval rose to meet a corner in the first attack of the second half, but Odisnel Cooper made another smart save and pushed it out for another corner, which led to nothing.
The first real opportunity in the 2nd half for the Battery came just after the hour mark, a free kick from distance was shot straight into the wall, the rebound falling to Emmanuel Adjetey, but his shot on target never troubled the ‘keeper, despite a good deal of bend on the effort, and the score remained 1-1.
And then, on 64’, Dante Marini played in Williams, who got to the byline before getting a shot off, which was deflected, but the ensuing corner led to nothing.
With nine minutes left, Romario Williams led a very dangerous counter up the left side, and unlike his earlier attempt, squared back, looking for a late run at the top of the box, and Justin Portillo’s shot was blocked, and the rebound, which fell to Maikel Chang, was put over the bar.
And so, to extra time we went, and the Armada again had chances early on, neither of which troubled Odisnel Cooper.
The Battery’s biggest chance of Extra Time came by way of a ball up to Ricky Garbanzo, but the last man was there to clean it up. Garbanzo went down and there was a hint of a penalty shout for the forward, but play resumed.
And it worked out well for the Armada, as the counter led to the eventual winner for the home side. The replay of the Garbanzo chance was still being played, but it was Al Keita who was played in, given time to pick his spot, and slid the ball under Odisnel Cooper. There was also a hint of offside about the goal, as it looked as if the last defender, Shawn Ferguson, had stepped up just in time, but the goal stood.
And that’s how it finished. The Battery fought well, but in the end, just couldn’t get over the line. They return to league play this Saturday, June 4th, travelling to Pittsburgh to take on the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, with Kick off at 7.