The Charleston Battery fell in their second game of the Carolina Challenge Cup thanks to a second half brace from Gyasi Zardes.
Ian Svantesson’s second goal in as many matches just after the half hour mark had the Battery going in at half time with a 1-0 advantage, but wholesale changes, which included more of Columbus’ starters and the Battery’s substitutes, turned the tide of the game on its head.
The Battery started the better side, putting out most of what would be projected as their starting 11 to start the season, while Columbus had a mix of their first team and trialists.
A fourth minute corner from the Black and Yellow was cleared at the second attempt as it bounced around the box, but you could already tell the home side were well up for it.
The Battery had their first chance at goal, and perhaps one they would want back, when Kotaro Higashi was on the end of a counter after the Battery had cleared a Crew corner kick. Higashi made his way down the left before cutting in and shooting with his right foot, just wide of the far post.
With a quarter of an hour gone, Naveal Hackshaw connected with a nice volley on the edge of the box, but it went safely into the ‘keeper’s arms, lacking the power it needed to trouble him.
The chances were then coming thick and fast for the Battery, and just three minutes later, Victor Mansaray would flick a ball into the path of Attaula Guerra, but the forward couldn’t control the ball and had to dig a shot out of his feet, which went over the bar.
But the Battery were nearly left to rue missed chances, when on the half hour mark, Pedro Santos, who was involved in two goals in Columbus’ 3-1 win over Atlanta Saturday, flashed a ball across the box that had Odisnel Cooper scrambling to get a vital touched that kept it away from Adam Jahn at the back post.
And on 32′, Tah Brian Anunga won the ball back in midfield and would measure a great ball into Ian Svantesson, who took a touch before opening the scoring with a tidy finish down the middle.
And they could very well have had a second, when on 40′, Svantesson nearly turned provider when his ball from the right was cut out at the last by a Columbus defender.
That’s the way things stayed as the half time whistle blew, with the Battery once again giving a great account of themselves following a solid win in their opening match against Minnesota.
But substitutions were promised by both sides at the break, with the majority of the Battery’s starters being given a reprieve for the second half, while the exact opposite could be said for the Crew, as Zardes, Frederico Higuaín, and Lalas Aboubackar were amongst the changes in the second half.
And almost straight away there was a difference, as Aboubackar rose highest for a 51st minute corner to head the ball toward goal, though it lacked power and never troubled Cooper in goal.
But on 56,’ the goal that the Crew’s second half display warranted finally came, when a trialist’s cross from the right found the head of Gyasi Zardes to level the scoring.
It was harsh on the Battery, having been the better team in the first half, but the Crew obviously turned the screw coming out of the break.
There were a flurry of substitutions within the next five minutes, with both sides now looking totally changed from the ones that started at the beginning of the match.
On 73′, Aboubackar rose again to connect with a Crew corner, but was thwarted once more Cooper in goal.
But on 82′, the Battery’s hopes were dashed. Harrison Afful crossed from the right, the same side where the Battery conceded the equalizer, to Gyasi Zardes, who this time had a lot more work to do, but still brat Odisnel Cooper with the header.
Despite the Crew’s resurgence in the second period, it was a bit harsh on the Battery, who had defended stoutly throughout the match.
But on the stroke of full time, the Battery had a chance to level. A shot on goal just inside the top of the box was deflected as it looked to be headed for the top corner, and shouts went up for handball from both the fans and players, but were waved away by the referee.
And that’s the way it ended. The Battery were unfortunate losers on Wednesday night, but gave another spirited account of themselves as we head into the new season.
The Battery next face Atlanta United on Saturday, February 24th at 7:05PM
Columbus square off against Minnesota in Saturday’s first game at 5:05PM.
TOP IMAGE: KOTARO HIGASHI’S SHOT IN THE EARLY GOINGS NEARLY PUTS THE BATTERY AHEAD ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO.