Despite some promising moments, the Charleston Battery and Ottawa Fury shared the points in the 2019 USL Championship opener Saturday.
Two early chances fell the way of the home side, but it was Ottawa who struck first through Kevin Olivera, who finished off a sweeping move down the left wing after the ball was pulled back across, which the striker dispatched off the inside of the post. Romario Piggott thought he had an equalizer just after a quarter of an hour, but it was eventually given offside, before Ian Svantesson would finally draw level midway through the second half as Kotaro Higashi‘s initial shot was palmed into the path of the big #9 to gain the Black and Yellow a point.
Both Higashi and Svantesson would have chances in the opening minutes for the home side, Svantesson coming closest when connecting with an Obrien Woodbine cross that he just couldn’t force on target from close range.
No sooner had the goal kick been taken than Ottawa were up the other end, the ball going down the left wing before being pulled back for Kevin Olivera who dispatched past Joe Kuzminsky in goal and in off the inside of the far post.
After the quick start from the Battery, it was a bit of a shock to the system, but the Battery were quick to regroup and showed that they weren’t out of it yet.
On 17, a slippery Kotaro Higashi would find space on the right and have a pop at goal, only for the effort to be saved, but palmed into the path of Romario Piggot, who was off to celebrate, although the referee would blow his whistle for offside. It was strange, as it appeared the goal was given, and there was considerable amount of time between the ball going into the net and the referee signaling for offside, Piggott had already ended his celebrations with his teammates before the decision was given, and there were several Battery players requesting an explanation from the official. Nonetheless, the score remained 1-0.
Tah Brian Anunga would force a the ‘keeper to tip a shot around the post after 36’ as he received a chipped ball on his chest from a free kick, and though the home side were awarded a corner, nothing came of it and the danger was cleared.
The Battery’s last chance of the first half came in stoppage time, again by way of Higashi, as Ian Svantesson would chest the ball down and do well to play the winger in under pressure from a defender, but Higashi’s attempted chip went wide.
And so, the scoreline at the break was 1-0. The Battery had their fair share of chances, but just lacked that little bit of a finishing touch to convert.
The Battery came out in the second half more patient than anything, allowing Ottawa possession whilst applying pressure when needed. On 56′, new signing AJ Paterson would go down the left, crossing in for Svantesson on the inside edge of the box, whose snap header went over the bar.
But then, on 66′, Tah Brian Anunga would play the ball forward for Kotaro Higashi, who peeled off his man and took a shot from the edge of the area, which was palmed back into the path of Ian Svantesson, who took a touch and equalized from close range.
As it were, the goal was deserved. While Ottawa looked like the better side as the second half began, keeping the ball and soaking up pressure, the Battery had been creating chances all game. The match was all square, and Svantesson was the one to open his side’s account for the new year after having struggled in 2018.
The Battery piled on some late pressure, but the points would eventually be shared at the end of the first match of the season. There was plenty to be happy about from a Battery perspective. The Black and Yellow did not lack creativity, and Svantesson’s early start will only bode well for his confidence going forward into his second year in Charleston.
The Battery next host newcomers Hartford Athletic on March 16. Kick off is at 7:30PM.