For the second week in a row, the Battery were left heartbroken by a late goal that saw them drop points, this time to Nashville SC
On the whole, the home side were in the ascendency for the majority of the game, though it was Kotaro Higashi that broke the deadlock on the counter after some good combination play with Romario Piggott and individual trickery near the end of the first half.
The lead would however be cancelled out when a cross from the left toward Ropapa Mensah beat Joe Kuzminsky at his near post, and the Battery would survive a late goal scare as the game headed into injury time only for the hosts to keep pushing and find a winner with virtually the last kick of the match.
After coming out of the blocks the better team, Nashville found the Battery’s defense difficult to break down, though a quick succession of chances fell to Lebo Meloto beginning in the 28th minute.when Meloto was involved in a 1-on-1 battle with Leland Archer that the center back won by forcing Meloto wide and nullifying the threat.
The next fell to Meloto after a pinpoint through ball fell to the feet of the striker and forced Joe Kuzminsky into a smart save down low to keep the scores level.
Down the other end, it was the Battery’s turn to attack, when on 35′, Romario Piggott would find space and time to crack an effort from outside the box, but it went over the bar without troubling Matt Pickens in goal.
And then, on 43′, the Battery were on the attack again, with Piggott and Higashi pulling off a 1-2 at the edge of the box, with Higashi fitting himself through two defenders and supplying the finish by putting the ball over the onrushing Pickens.
It was surely against the run of play, but the Battery had a goal to cling to going into halftime, and that was all important.
But the second half continued in the same vein that the first did. Nashville weren’t deterred by the goal they conceded, and in that sense, the break perhaps came at the wrong time for the Battery.
On 49, Mensah would make his way into the box and would lay the ball off for Cameron Lancaster, who beat Kuzminsky with a shot, but it would go wide of the target.
But then, after 56′, full back Darnell King would play a 1-2 with Lebo Meloto before the ball was served in from the right and toward the head of Ropapa Mensah, who outjumped Battery defender Kyle Nelson as the ball was forced on goal and past Joe Kuzminsky for the equalizer.
It had been coming, but was still tough for the Battery to take. They had defended well all game, and replays showed that the last touch came off of Nelson as an Own Goal rather than the head of Mensah.
Though the Battery would have a chance of their own after the hour mark, and it would be from a Nashville corner. A fast break from the cleared set piece would eventually find the feet of Zeiko Lewis, who went through and was able to beat Matt Pickens, but a retreating Matt LaGrassa was there to clear away.
And on 66′, there was action at the other end again, this time with Cameron Lancaster opening up his hips and curling an effort from the left of the box toward the opposite corner, but the shot would go wide.
And then, as normal time expired, it looked as if Nashville had found a winner. The Battery were stuck playing the ball out of the back, and gave the ball away high up the pitch, and Mensah would then round Kuzminsky and slot home. However, it was adjudged that a Nashville player gave Mensah the ball while he was in an offside position, and the goal wouldn’t stand. With the benefit of replay though, it was clear that the ball last touched a Battery foot before rolling into Mensah’s path, and so the visitors had looked to have dodged a bullet.
Three minutes of added on time were to be played, and it was still the home side that were pushing for the winner. They would indeed find it through Bolu Akinyode, who capitalized on a poor attempt at getting their one final push away from the Battery with expert control, and a deflection would take his shot on the volley into the net.
Perhaps the luck was deserved for the missed call four minutes earlier, but the Battery’s hearts sunk. The goal meant conceding two late goals in games where they took the lead in as many weeks, something that has come to haunt them in recent weeks.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Battery, who travel to Charlotte to take on the Charlotte Independence on Friday, August 30th. Kick off is at 7:30, and the match will be streamed on ESPN+.
FEATURED IMAGE: GOALSCORER KOTARO HIGASHI AGAINST SATURDAY’S OPPONENTS. ROSS ALMERS PHOTOHRAPHY PHOTO