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Battery finally connect the dots, steamroll TFC

The Charleston Battery got the monkey off their back with a 4-0 win over Toronto FC II after a barnstorming second half led in part by Obi Woodbine’s goal and two assists.

The win snaps a seven game winless run in all competitions that included five draws in the last 6 and a 4th round exit from the US Open Cup by Atlanta United in which the Black and Yellow were in a rut creatively and couldn’t seem to see games through to the end.

It didn’t start all that easy though, the first half was frustrating for the visitors, the first real chance coming after 15′, when Neveal Hackshaw‘s cross in low from the left after some good build up play fell to Attaula Guerra, who only needed to direct his touch on goal after the ‘keeper was taken out of it by the cross, but the ball bobbled up on him as it hit his knee and went wide.

And then, on 32’, Kotaro Higashi controlled a pass inside the box by Nico Rittmeyer but couldn’t quite get a shot off as his touch was too far in front of him.

A pass from the right on 36′ by Rittmeyer looked to play Attaula Guerra through, but as he tried to round the ‘keeper, he couldn’t control the ball and the chance was lost.

And that’s how it ended, the Black and Yellow were the better side, but as of that moment still struggling to find their way in front of goal as it looked to be another frustrating evening.

The Battery came out for the second half, however, with a renewed impetuous, and earned a corner after Guerra and Woodbine would combine at the top of the box before the full back’s ball back across would be cleared away, but the corner led to naught.

Gordon Wild would enter the game on 56′, looking to add more flair to the passing game and a bit of link up play to open play up a little bit for the visitors as they continued to press for the go ahead goal.

And they wouldn’t have to wait much longer, when on the hour mark, a ball from the left came all the way through but was kept in on the touchline by Obi Woodbine,  whose cross was hit back into the six yard box and got caught up in a defender’s legs as he tried to clear and fell to Attaula Guerra, who pounced on the chance and hammered the ball into the back of the net.

The finish in itself relayed a bit of frustration that the visitors were feeling, as it was hit with nothing but power enough to take the hands off the ‘keeper and put the Battery in front.

And four minutes later, they would gain a bit more control as Taylor Mueller‘s long ball again found Obi Woodbine, this time a bit narrower in toward the box, as he raced to the byline and played back toward Kotaro Higashi, who took a touch to get the ball under him before his shot was deflected in.

For Mueller, who started the attack, it was stock in trade, finding runs from deep with the long ball as has happened many a time over the years for the Black and Yellow. For Higashi, after finally getting his first competitive goal for the Battery in their 1-1 draw with Charlotte, he would make it two goals in three games, starting to display a bit of calmness in front of goal.

Gordon Wild’s effort on 76’ was saved by the ‘keeper after some quick build up play on the edge of the box between him and Guerra. The visitors looked firmly in control at that stage, content to pass the ball around and move Toronto out of their shape, thus leaving chances for the Battery to use their pace up front to exploit the home side’s backline.

The ensuing corner ended up leading to a goal kick, which was taken short and pressed on by Wild, who won the ball back and passed on to fellow substitute Patrick Okonkwo, who laid off for the onrushing Higashi to give him what would’ve been his second goal of the night, but he put the effort wide.

Toronto began to create chances after that, seemingly taking an “all hands on deck” approach, and forced the Battery defense to deal with a few scrambles as they looked to make their way back into the match, earning a corner on 79’ that Joe Kuzminski would have to deal with with a well executed punch out for a throw in.

But the Battery would continue to push the initiative, realizing that with the home side knocking on the door late, they needed a bit more to well and truly put it to bed.

Taylor Mueller’s long ball would again find Obi Woodbine, who this time found himself inside the box, taking the ball down off the bounce and firing into the roof of the net for 3-0.

It was what he deserved after two assists that broke open the game, and he took his chance well, having seemed to drift in further and further from the right flank as the second half went on.

And the Black and Yellow weren’t done yet. Deep into injury time, Patrick Okonkwo would lay the ball off to Gordon Wild on the corner of the area, before he took space toward the middle of the box and shot from distance from just outside as it caromed off the leg of a defender and went in as the ‘keeper dived the opposite way.

And that’s the way it finished. The Battery ran out 4-0 winners, keeping a clean sheet and finally getting back to winning ways.

For all the previous month and change worth of bad luck mixed with poor play on and off the ball, everything seemed to go right in that second 45 for the Battery, and after such a dismal spell, they will hope that this sees a change in fortune for the months ahead, whilst also taking some valuable lessons learned into the rest of the campaign.

But it won’t be an easy task, as they next face North Carolina FC at WakeMed Soccer Park on Saturday, July 7th in a key Southern Derby.



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