A goal for each side in the second half meant that the Charleston Battery and New York Red Bulls II would share the points on Saturday night.
The game took most of the first half to get going, but a red card to Tah Brian Anunga just before halftime opened up the game. Despite being down a man, a quick counter attack finished off by Nicque Daley put the Battery in front before an unfortunate deflection put the ball on a plate for Mathias Jorgensen with ten minutes to go to earn his side a share of the spoils.
The majority of the first half was quiet, but Jarad van Schaik would force a save out of the Red Bulls ‘keeper after eight minutes with a powerful shot from distance.
The rest of the opening 45 was spent with the two sides feeling each other out, neither willing to give much away in terms of clear cut opportunities, despite both sides trading set pieces, most of which came to nothing.
But then, as we looked to be headed for the break, Tah Brian Anunga was involved in a challenge at midfield right in front of the referee, and received his marching orders as his team were reduced to ten men.
The challenge seemed innocuous as two players were going for the ball, but perhaps the referee adjudged that Anunga went in late, and so the Black and Yellow were forced to play the second half a man light.
The Battery would make a half time substitution, with Kyle Nelson replacing Nico Rittmeyer, as Nelson moved to right back and occupied the space Angelo Kelly was tasked with opening the match at, which allowed Kelly to move forward into his more natural midfield position alongside Vincenzo Candela, making up for the vacancy left by Anunga.
The switch in formation almost paid early dividends, when a long ball from deep was headed on into the path of Nicque Daley, who burst past his man into space and would force the ‘keeper into a save, which earned the Battery a corner, though nothing would come of it.
But on 54′, an errant pass from the Red Bulls was intercepted in the midfield, as it came back the other way for Daley on the counter attack, who burst into space and left his marker trailing behind him, applying the finish to put his side 1-0 up.
Despite the disadvantage of being a man down, it was the Battery who found the breakthrough, allowing the visitors onto them, soaking up pressure and then using the outlet ball of Daley on the counter to devastating effect.
The Red Bulls knew they had to pile on the pressure following the goal, however, and on 67′, it should have been level. Jared Stroud would finally get beyond the Battery back line to pull back for Jorgensen at the front post, only for Jorgensen to miss wide from close range.
Jorgensen was in again just minutes later, powering into the box before trying to chip Joe Kuzminsky in goal, but losing his footing in the process as the ball went out for a goal kick.
Kuzminsky would have to be on his toes again on 71′, when a poor giveaway at the top of the box put the Red Bulls in 1-on-1. Kuzminsky would have to come and claim without conceding a penalty, and did so expertly to snuff out the danger.
Kelly would make good use of his change in position when, on 73′, he would go on a mazy run from inside his own half to the edge of the penalty area before finding Romario Piggott, who found himself in space on the right, but would wait just a second too long with the shot that eventually went wide.
And in the 80th minute, the pressure the Red Bulls applied would tell. It would come via a stroke of luck, when a shot from the top of the box took a deflection off of a defenders leg and fall to the feet of Jorgensen, leaving Kuzminsky flat footed and levelling the scores.
The goal had been coming, but even with the Battery a man down, the game had been wide open. Still, the Black and Yellow found themselves level, and would have to keep the heads up if they wanted to stay in the game.
Four minutes later, it was Jorgensen in again, this time down the right as the pressure seemed relentless from the Red Bulls. This time, however, Kuzminsky was ready for it, saving low at the near post, conceding a corner that was headed clear.
The Battery would have one final chance, earning a free kick on the edge of the box to the right that was taken by substitute Zeiko Lewis. Lewis would step up and attempt to curl the ball over the wall, but couldn’t get the ball to dip in time to trouble the ‘keeper as the final whistle blew.
The draw is somewhat frustrating for the home side, given the amount of stalemates piling up. Still, the Battery were made to dig deep for the point, especially after going a man down, and can take positives out of the result.
The Battery next travel to take on Atlanta United 2, on Friday, July 5th. Kick off is at 7:30PM. TOP IMAGE: NICQUE DALEY ON THE RUN AGAINST A RED BULLS DEFENDER. PHOTO CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY