The Charleston Battery were forced to share the points with the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Wednesday night, finishing in a 0-0 draw.
Both teams were frustrated with the result, as neither could really get things going on the attacking side of the ball. Attaula Guerra went closest near the end of the first half for the visitors, but it was Joe Kuzminsky who produced a number of key saves as the tables turned toward the hosts in the second half.
Despite this, the Battery could’ve had a penalty early on, after Gordon Wild appeared to be tripped by the trailing leg of Tarek Morad, but nothing was given and play continued.
On 18′, Kuzminsky was forced into his first save of the evening when a Rowdies corner was cleared, but a cross from Leo Fernandes that found Stefano Bonomo was headed down and into the arms of the Battery stopper.
A gratuitous bounce off of Skylar Thomas after 28′ found the feet of Junior Flemmings, but his effort at goal would go high over Kuzminsky’s net.
Perhaps the Battery’s best chance of the game came from a sleepy Tampa defense on 37′, which Obi Woodbine took advantage of with a quick throw down the line to Attaula Guerra, who slid in behind his defender, shaped to shoot, but put it wide of goal. The effort looked for all intents and purposes a certainty for the striker, but the scores remained 0-0 headed into the break.
The home side, however, looked the freshest of the two out of the restart. This was evident when on 49′, Junior Flemmings latched onto a throughball from midfield and forced Kuzminsky into a spectacular one-handed save to his left to keep the game level. Despite the obvious touch, the ref pointed for a goal kick, and play continued from there.
On 51′ Neveal Hackshaw was closest to connecting with a Battery free kick that was played into the box from the right, but he couldn’t connect with the ball to re-direct it as it bounced in front of him and into the arms of Cody Mizell in the Tampa goal.
A minute later, a long ball would be taken down by Jarad van Schaik in the box, who controlled and pulled back to Vincenzo Candela who couldn’t get enough power on it and scuffed his shot right at the ‘keeper.
And then, from what seemed like the next phase of play, Junior Flemmings would take the ball down and separate himself from Hackshaw, but his shot went wide and out for a goal kick.
It looked increasingly likely as the second half rolled on that the home side were going to be the ones to sneak in front, but the Battery were prepared to remain steadfast in their own pursuit of something that could change the game.
It looked like the dam had broken just past the hour mark on 64’, when a Tampa free kick was cleared, only for the second ball to be nodded down and blasted in by Flemmings, but the referee blew and the goal was disallowed.
It was unclear whether the whistle was for offside, or for a foul on Taylor Mueller, playing his 163rd match for the Battery, going 4th in the team’s All-Time appearance records, who was down inside the box following the decision.
The Battery had a corner in the 77th minute that perhaps should have led to more, when a flick on at the front post fell to Skylar Thomas who couldn’t control, and the chance went begging.
Then, two minutes later, Rowdies substitute Leon Taylor looked to get ahead of Kuzminsky and latch onto a long ball into the box, but couldn’t direct his header into an empty net and we stayed level.
Another Tampa sub, Georgi Hristov would combine with Taylor with two minutes to go, as his cross from the left found the forward in the area, but Kuzminsky would claim, and the chance was gone.
Hristov would create the final chance of the night, forcing Kuzminsky into a save from inside the box, but the stopper would be equal to it as the final whistle would soon blow and both sides would settle for a point each.
Neither team will be all that happy with the result. The Battery sit third behind Cincinnati and Pittsburgh at the top of the Eastern conference and would’ve been looking to keep pace, and Tampa were in a terrible run of form, languishing in 12th.
The Battery however, return home after Wednesday’s game to face Atlanta United 2 on August 11th. Kick off is at 7PM.
TOP IMAGE: ATTAULA GUERRA WENT CLOSEST FOR THE BLACK AND YELLOW, AND IS PICTURED ABOVE PLAYING AGAINST TAMPA IN A PREVIOUS MATCH. ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO