Ian Svantesson‘s goal was enough for a share of the points as the Charleston Battery played the Columbus Crew to a stalemate Saturday evening.
The goal was Svantesson’s fourth in five Carolina Challenge Cup matches, and also meant that the Battery weren’t eliminated from contention from this year’s tournament going into the final matchday after the Chicago Fire would also draw against FC Cincinnati in the later game.
Svantesson’s goal put the hosts ahead from a corner after a solid spell from the Black and Yellow in the first half, but Robinho would equalize with the last kick of the first half, and eventually, the two teams weren’t to be separated.
Despite an impressive first 45 for the home team, it was Columbus who had the first chance, when Patrick Mullins’ shot had Joe Kuzminsky troubled, but it went wide for a goal kick.
Romario Piggott was involved in much of what the Battery did well this evening, and in the third minute, he would connect with the overlapping Jarad van Schaik to create the Battery’s first opportunity, but the cross wasn’t able to find anyone in a dangerous area and went out for a throw.
Kuzminsky was left troubled again as goalscorer Robinho hit a free kick from about 25 yards out off the post and behind. It may have been that the ‘keeper had it covered, but the woodwork was there to help him in any case.
Robinho was at the center of things once more on 22′ after his effort from distance looked promising initially but went over the bar.
And then, three minutes later, as the Battery had a corner, Nico Rittmeyer, fresh off signing a new deal last week, served in a ball from the right toward the front post, where Ian Svantesson would beat the ‘keeper in the air and head the Battery into a 1-0 lead.
The build up play had been promising, albeit helped by a bit of sloppiness by the opposing side, but the Battery were able to hold their own and were good value for their lead up until that point.
But it was nearly short lived but for some great defensive work by Leland Archer, who, when faced by an attacker 1-on-1 on the right of the box, used him body to get in the way of the forward and the goal, winning the ball in the process. He was hustled toward the byline by the attacker in an attempt to regain control, but did well to avoid a corner and eventually smuggle the ball clear.
Tah Bran Anunga would earn a yellow for pulling an attacker down on 36′, but the ensuing free kick led to nothing.
Tah would then receive a ball from the goalscorer Svantesson at the edge of the box on 38′, only for his shot from the right go high and wide.
Jarad van Schaik would find Vincenzo Candela with a pull back from the right with pace, and Candela’s diving header might have possibly been hit too well as it cracked off the bar and into the ‘keeper’s arms.
From the right side, down the other end, Edward Opoku would find Robinho in space in the middle deep in first half stoppage time, who placed a shot off the inside of the post and in for the equalizer.
There were changes at halftime, as Kyle Nelson came in for Obi Woodbine, Dante Marini for Nico Rittmeyer, and AJ Patterson would replace Jarad van Schaik.
Patrick Mullins again would create the first chance of the half, seeing his shot deflected for a corner which would eventually come to nothing.
Goalscorer Ian Svantesson would be replaced by Arthur Bosua in the 59th, after a hard day’s work that wasn’t always filled with chances. He was able to play other players in and did get the important goal to his name.
After that the subs started flowing and the game would slow a little, but Joe Kuzminsky had work to do on 72′, as a rebound from a save hit his own man and nearly crept in but for his awareness to be alive to the situation and smother the ball on the line.
He would have more work to do on 80′ to deny JJ Williams at the near post with a diving save and this time wouldn’t have any extra difficulty dealing with it.
The man who had the assist on the equalizer, Edward Opoku, would be denied by Kuzminsky with two minutes to go as the Crew piled on the pressure late, while a rebound via Williams would crack the bar.
On 92′, Leland Archer would close out a solid performance with a clearance off the line to deny another late goal as the Battery would hold on for a point.
And so, the Battery and Crew weren’t to be separated. The point gained for the home side meant that every team in the round robin tournament had a point to their name. Everything comes down to the final day, Saturday, February 23rd, when the Crew plays FC Cincinnati, and the Battery face the Chicago Fire. The kickoff of the first match will be at 5PM, while the second game is set for 7:30.
TOP IMAGE COURTESY OF ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY