The Charleston Battery fell to the Tampa Bay Rowdies Saturday, having lost back-to-back games for the first time this season after goals from Joe Cole and Martin Paterson.
There were a number of changes from the loss against St. Louis, as Alex Tambakis was between the sticks. Quinton Griffith replaced Skylar Thomas at left back, while Tah Brian Anunga made his return in midfield and there was a debut for Lagos Kunga after completing his move from Atlanta United.
The Battery started the game well. The quick tempo and passing that was near nonexistent in St. Louis on display for much of the early first half. Maikel Chang would create the first half chance with a nifty little pass into Heviel Cordoves, but the striker wasn’t able to catch his run and was given offside despite putting a shot on goal.
In the eighth minute, Joe Cole had the ball on the left edge of the box after good buildup from the home side, but would slip and be unable to force a ball across, only managing a toe poke that was blocked into the legs of an attacking on the opposite side and giving Alex Tambakis no trouble.
Lagos Kunga impressed in his debut, especially in the first half, and he would cause trouble on 12′, bending a shot just wide of the left post.
Tampa would go up the pitch and earn a corner just a minute later, but Tambakis would come to claim and avert danger.
Some good buildup in the 16th led to a shot from Heviel Cordoves, which produced a great save from Pickens in goal, before it would be reset for Maikel Chang who would shoot wide of goal.
Tambakis would come to punch a cross a couple minutes later, but not get enough on the ball, which would fall to Marcel Schafer, who would see a shot deflected out for a corner, though it would lead to naught.
The Battery would then have a free kick on 22′ that would break down and give Tampa the chance to counter, but it broke down.
Shortly after, a ball across the face for Tampa would look to spell danger, but no one latched on before it was picked up on the far side and sent back to Schafer, whose effort went wide.
The Battery would have a dangerous free kick on 24′, which was cleared before being sent back in and cleared again. It would then roll out on the right to Quinton Griffith who took his eye off the ball whilst trying to pick a cross and let the ball roll out of play.
Tah Brian Anunga would form a nice 1-2 with Obi Woodbine before finding Cordoves in the box, but his shot was blocked and cleared away from trouble.
After the half an hour mark, Tampa began to turn the screw as Joe Cole would latch onto a ball that the Battery defense couldn’t force clear, but his shot would go over the bar.
Marcel Schafer would again cause trouble on 32′, after his cross was flicked on by a teammate and forced Tambakis into a good save to keep the scores level.
But the ‘keeper would perhaps make his best save of the night, denying the home side from just six yards out after a cross low into the box was volleyed toward goal. Tambakis’ reactions had to be razor sharp, and he was up to the task, palming the ball wide before it was cleared.
A Battery corner on 38′ would be cleared for another, but eventually wasted as Perkins would claim in the Tampa goal.
And then, after 41′, came the breakthrough. It came after a long ball wasn’t dealt with by the Battery defense, and Alex Morell would turn his man before laying off to Joe Cole, who gave the ‘keeper no chance to open the scoring.
The goal came at the worst possible time for the Battery, being so close to the break, but having been guilty of letting the heads drop after conceding in their last game, they couldn’t be caught doing the same here. They would have to find a way to force their way back in, and came out in the second half again looking dangerous.
The Battery earned a corner in the 46th, only for it to be cleared away, whilst good buildup on the edge of the box a few minutes later fell to Obi Woodbine, only for his shot to be skewed wide.
On 56’, more good play from the Battery resulted in a layoff by Kunga into the path of Portillo, but his shot lacked power and the ‘keeper would save.
A Battery corner in the 58th would only lead to a goal kick as the game became increasingly frustrating for the Battery.
On 64’, Lagos Kunga would be replaced by Ricky Garbanzo. Kunga could be pleased with his debut outing, and looked lively, especially in the first half. He, along with Chang and Anunga, were at the center of everything good for the visitors, which is something that bodes well going forward as the team looks to find a piece to fill the void left by Dante Marini. He could be aggrieved slightly at being taken off having been so influential, but with one eye on a midweek match in Pittsburgh, you can gather what the boss’s thought process would be.
Alex Morrel would again cause danger on 67′, when he latched onto a cross, but put his shot onto the bar as the home side were nearly 2-0 up.
There was more injury trouble for the Battery on 69′, as Forrest Lasso would have to be replaced by Miles Robinson after clearing a ball and sustaining a knock a few minutes prior.
But the defender was forced straight into action, with just less than 20 minutes to go, he got himself turned around on the edge of the box by Martin Paterson, who would then finish top corner to double the hosts’ lead.
And so the Battery were given so much to do in so little time. But unlike the previous match against St. Louis, it wasn’t for the lack of creativity. It was the failure to stay collected when it counted. They were trying to find that one extra pass, and in the end lacked that lethal bit of edge they needed in front of goal.
Nico Rittmeyer would be brought on for a short cameo in the 84th, replacing Tah Brian Anunga. Anunga scored the winner in the first meeting between these two sides, and put in a decent shift tonight as well, but wasn’t quite as effective as he’d want to be.
The visitors had a few chances to get back into the game in the closing minutes. Justin Portillo would step up to a free kick from roughly 20 yards out which went wide with four minutes left, and then Cordoves would latch onto a corner in the 88th, which he would head wide.
And that was how it finished. The Battery would fall to their second loss in two, with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds the final stop on their three game road stretch on Wednesday, July 26 at 7PM. You can watch it on MyTV Charleston or stream it on the club’s website.
TOP IMAGE: DEFENDER FORREST LASSO FIGHTS HIS MAN OFF THE BALL IN A PREVIOUS MEETING BETWEEN THE TWO SIDES. PHOTO CREDIT ZACH BLAND.