The Charleston Battery conceded a late goal that denied them three points on Saturday against the New York Red Bulls II.
Romario Williams’ return to action also saw his regular strike partner Attaula Guerra in the starting XI. While Tah Brian Anunga would slide into a more defensive position to cover for the injured Quinton Griffith, meaning Naveal Hackshaw would make the start beside Justin Portillo.
A great run from Obi Woodbine earned his side a corner in as early as the second minute, though it wouldn’t beat the first man and was cleared away from danger by the travelling defense.
New York’s first look at goal looked to be coming in the 13th minute, when an attacker found himself with a slight window to shoot at Odisnel Cooper’s goal, but Woodbine would come across and shut down the man, and the shot went wide.
On 20′, an unfortunate bounce from a Forrest Lasso challenge spelled trouble again for the home side, bouncing into the box with a man bearing down on goal, but Cooper was there to make himself big and claim at the striker’s feet.
Three minutes later, it was the Battery who were knocking at the door. A long throw had looked to be dealt with before Maikel Chang latched onto the second ball at the top of the box, flicked the ball past a marker and had a pop at goal. It looked to be destined to cause trouble for the goalkeeper at least, before a defender swung his boot at the ball to clear for a corner, though it was wasted.
Cooper was in trouble again on the half hour mark. A through ball would allow for a shot that went just wide of the far post.
Then, five minutes before half time, the Battery were given a free kick on the left edge of the box roughly 20 yards out. Justin Portillo would be the one to take, wafting the ball in toward the center back, Lasso. He’d get up above his man and whip a snap header toward goal, but couldn’t put in on target and it went over the bar.
Obi Woodbine was then booked for a bit of follow through after losing the ball late on in the first half, and would have to watch himself as the game went on.
But then, finally, the breakthrough. An inch perfect ball from Portillo found Attaula Guerra going through on goal, having stayed onside. Guerra then gave the ‘keeper a bit of the eyes before lifting his head up and seeing an onside Romario Williams at the far post, who controlled and slotted the ball home to put his side in front with his 15th goal this season.
That, in essence, is the composure the Battery have lacked in both player’s absence. Guerra being the creative force behind a team that for a long time led the league in goals scored before the recent barren run, and in Williams, a forward with a nose for goal to put them in, showing just how, with one on the field, they’re in good shape, but with both, they’re a force to be reckoned with.
And that’s how the first half ended. The Battery up 1-0, but they were in need of a second to put distance between themselves and a visiting side who were, at the very least, plucky, giving you no sense they were out of the game whatsoever.
On 48′ the Red Bulls ‘keeper would punch a corner clear, only for Maikel Chang to pick up the second ball and fire at goal. A mix up in communication would lead to a sliced clearance behind for a corner, though the ball looked to be going straight to the ‘keeper. The Battery couldn’t capitalize on their stroke of luck though, as the set piece was cleared.
Guerra was then unlucky not to latch onto a through ball that would’ve left him 1 on 1 with the ‘keeper, the pass this time just being a little over hit
With an hour gone, it was nearly disaster for the home side. A short pass was well under hit by Obi Woodbine, which put the defense under pressure as it went straight to a visiting attacker. The defense would scramble, but it would be Forrest Lasso to clear behind for a corner, which was dealt with well and cleared away.
Four minutes later, a corner was given to the Red Bulls, and, though cleared away, a second ball produced what could’ve been a difficult cross had it not been over hit and out for a goal kick.
On 68′, the Red Bulls took another corner, this time played short, and then into the box on the ground, which created a bit of space for the attacker to have a shot that didn’t trouble Odisnel Cooper.
But on 72′, a bit of luck fell the visitors’ way, when a blocked shot fell to the feet of Stefano Benomo, who shot on the half volley across the goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper and gave him no chance as it nestled into the side netting.
You couldn’t really blame the ‘keeper, as a fortunate bounce off a leg created the chance in the first place, but the Battery had had chances to put the game beyond their opponents, and didn’t take them, which allowed the Red Bulls back into the game as it went on.
The Red Bulls forced a corner two minutes later, but nothing would be made of it.
Five minutes from time, the Battery would earn a free kick, and the big bodies would go forward, including Heviel Cordoves, who replaced Kotaro Higashi as the whistle blew for the set piece. However, it would be dealt with by the defense, and time was running out.
On 87′, Obi Woodbine went in for a challenge, and appeared to have gotten the ball, though the referee was coming from behind the play and adjudged the player to have taken the man, and issued Woodbine a second yellow, which meant the Battery would have to play the remaining three minutes, plus stoppage time, down a man.
The ensuing free kick would lead to naught, but eventually recycled and Justin Portillo was called for a handball from a blocked shot, giving the visitors a free kick just outside the box. It would go straight into the wall and back out as a quick pass found Romario Williams ready to lead a break, but the Red Bulls dispossessed him by way of a kick as it broke down. Williams would then have to receive treatment, but was okay to continue.
Deep into stoppage time, the Red Bulls would have the last chance. Both teams were hoofing the ball up the pitch in hopes of a knock down and shot, but it was the visitors who were the ones to threaten. A long ball across to the left was headed down, and the ensuing shot looked to have beaten Cooper, but thankfully for the Black and Yellow, went wide of the far post.
In the end, it may have been a fair result. There was much huffing and puffing from both teams, but not much in the way of creativity barring the Battery’s goal. The Red Bulls were a bit lucky with the bounce of the ball that led to the equalizer, but as the Battery have benefitted from similar situations before, the visitors kept themselves in the game, and it just shows that anything can happen if you do so.
The Battery play their first of three games away from home against Rochester Rhinos on Saturday August 19, with kick off scheduled for 6:05. You can watch on MyTV Charleston or stream at the club’s website.
ROMARIO WILLIAMS, AIDED BY GREAT PASSES FROM BOTH ATTAULLA GUERRA & JUSTIN PORTILLO IN THE BUILDUP, SCORED HIS 15TH GOAL OF THE YEAR. All photos credit Ross Almers Photography