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Missed chances haunt Battery in loss to Toronto

Despite being the better side for long stretches of the game, the Charleston Battery ended up on the losing end of their final home game of the season in a 2-1 loss against Toronto FC II.

Patrick Okonkwo‘s goal shortly after the break seemed to bring an end to a host of missed chances in the first half, but the home side were only in front for three minutes before the visitors found an equalizer after getting the better of some sloppy defending. And it got worse just after the hour mark as the home side conceded another in quick succession. There was much huffing and puffing by the Black and Yellow as time ran out, as substitutes Nico Rittmeyer and Gordon Wild looked to make an impact, but the Battery were left to pay for early missed opportunities as they couldn’t get a win in their final home match of the season.

There were two guilt edged chances that went begging in the first ten minutes alone. First, Victor Mansaray connected with a cross on the volley but the Toronto keeper would produce a flying save to deny from close range.

Then, the Battery would go through shortly after by way of Patrick Okonkwo, who couldn’t keep a bit of a toe poke down from a long ball into the box on the left.

In the eighth minute, Obi Woodbine would go clear on the right, but was adjudged to be offside despite seemingly making the run to receive the ball from behind his man.

Okonkwo would get on the end of an inch-perfect Vincenzo Candela cross from the right on 17′, but the header went high and wide.

Another Candela cross, this time from a free kick on 20′, would go begging as nothing came of the opportunity.

But after 43′, Patrick Okonkwo again went close, this time from an Obi Woodbine service, but his looping header would only hit the top of the bar.

In first half stoppage time, another Woodbine cross would find Ian Svantesson, whose header looked to be on its way at least on target before Okonkwo would redirect it in an effort to fake the ‘keeper out, but the shot went wide.

And so, that’s how the first half ended. It was quite frustrating for the home side, but they know they would need to keep a level head if they wanted anything out of the game.

And yet, it was at the other end that the first chance of the second half came. After 50’, Leland Archer was beaten to a ball on the wing before Joe Kuzminsky was forced into a good save on the right as he parried the initial effort away into the path of Neveal Hackshaw, who headed the ball back to ease the pressure.

It was three minutes later that the deadlock was finally broken, and it was Attaula Guerra who was again at the forefront of the attack, this time playing provider as he turned a marker in midfield, charging forward before finding Patrick Okonkwo in space, who took a touch to separate himself from the defender and slotted home.

The goal was warranted, given the run of play and how many chances that the Black and Yellow had created, but there was still a long way to go.

And a bitter reminder of that came on 56′, when a ball was played in from the left and would find Ayo Akinola unmarked in the middle for the tap in to equalize.

The goal was eerily similar to the earlier Toronto chance, but this time the second runner was there to make the difference.

And on 64′, things would get worse. Terique Mohammed found Jordan Hamilton from the right at the back post unmarked, and Hamilton would head the ball down and into the net to put the visitors in front.

So, from 1-0 up and relatively relaxed and looking confident, two defensive mistakes had the Battery behind just as quickly. It was an uphill climb after that, with Nico Rittmeyer and Gordon Wild coming off the substitutes bench in an effort to bring a different dimension to the play.

The subs worked, for the most part. The Battery would regain their footing, but much like the rest of the game, lacked a final ball. Rittmeyer would do well on 77′ to get free and create space for a dangerous looking cross into the middle, but the ‘keeper was there to claim before any damage could be done.

With six minutes of normal time left, Neveal Hackshaw rose to meet a corner from the right, and seemed to get a good header on it after making a great run to find space, but the ball would go wide.

And that’s how it ended. What started out so well for the Battery ended up as a bit of a nightmare, especially defensively.

The Battery closed their home season tonight, but still have an opportunity to secure a home playoff game in the two matches left to go.

The first of those, at Atlanta United 2, comes Sunday. October 10th. Kick off is at 4PM.

TOP IMAGE: PATRICK OKONKWO (PICTURED) SCORED THE BATTERY’S ONLY GOAL IN HIS TEAM’S LOSS TO TFC II. PHOTO CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY AND DESIGN

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