A goal in each half helped the Charleston Battery on the way to a crucial victory over Memphis 901 FC.
It was a header from a Zeiko Lewis corner by Taylor Mueller that gave the Black and Yellow the lead, before Lewis himself would provide one on the other side of the break for insurance, giving the Battery a much needed three points, while eliminating their opponents from playoff contention.
It was a must win game for the Battery. The loss to Loudon at the weekend wasn’t the end of the world given the results that happened over the course of matchweek 32, but they knew that another loss left their playoff hopes in jeopardy.
The scenario goes that if the Battery won their two remaining games, they can finish as high as 9th, automatically giving them a playoff bid. Any less puts them in a position that they would have to hope for results around them to go their way. Two losses meant that they would miss out on a 12th consecutive playoff berth, and so the only way to make the playoffs is to play what is put in front of them, which started tonight.
The Battery had a number of early first half corners, the first of which nearly created the game’s first chance, The ball was sent in from the left quadrant toward the back stick and headed down, but cleared away before it could do any damage.
Joe Kuzminsky had to get down smartly on 11′, after a Memphis corner was initially cleared but fired back through bodies at the top of the box, forcing the Battery stopper down to his right to palm away.
After 17 minutes, a lapse in concentration in midfield almost led to former Battery winger Lagos Kunga pouncing on a counter, but stout defending from Jarad van Schaik led his man away from goal and the opportunity came to nothing.
At the other end, a pinpoint supply from Zeiko Lewis to Arthur Bosua could have put the home side in front, if not for an excellent save from Bosua’s looping header from the goalkeeper.
And then, on the half hour mark, the Battery would make one of their early set pieces count. A corner from the right was played in by Zeiko Lewis to the front post, and captain Taylor Mueller, up from the back, was there to finish with a glancing header.
The goal was only Mueller’s second of the season, usually such a threat at set pieces, and corners especially. But for the Battery, it was all important, no matter who provided it, to have edged in front.
After 33′ Kuzminsky was forced into another save, again to his right, but this time from a free kick just outside the box that went around the Battery wall with pace and power. Kuzminsky would be equal to it, however, and the danger was gone.
Just a few minutes later, Nicque Daley would fashion a chance not unlike Kunga’s at the other end, picking the ball up in his own end and making his way past defenders and into the box.
Similar to Kunga, he would be dragged wide however, and as he tried to cut back onto his left to create space, he got the ball stuck under his feet, which gave the defender a moment to cover, and eventually the ball ended up in the hands of the ‘keeper.
Just before half time, on 41′, Daley would again lead the attack. He would pop up on the left to feed Kotaro Higashi, who provided a square ball into the middle for Arthur Bosua. The striker would turn and attempt a shot that went just off the far post and out of play.
And that’s how it finished. The Battery were up at half time, but needed to hold on to this lead in a tight, all important match for both sides.
The second half was a lot more open for both sides, and physical at that. All of the games’ six yellow cards came in the second half, with Zeiko Lewis and Angelo Kelly both receiving cautions for the Black and Yellow, and Marc Burch, Dan Metzger, Elliot Collier, and Abdi Mohamed going into the book for Memphis.
Vincenzo Candela replaced Nicque Daley just past the half hour mark. Candela was a doubt for this game after breaking his wrist, but came on to provide an extra bit of steal to the midfield, replacing Daley, who had put a decent shift in having played two games in a week.
And shortly after, the Battery were in again. Nico Rittmeyer would make his way past his man on the right wing before picking his head up and spotting Zeiko Lewis at the front post. Lewis would take a touch to control and quickly have two defenders around him, slipping in the process, but still providing the finish to give his team the insurance they needed.
It was well worked from the home side, who finally got the second goal their game deserved.
With 15 minutes to go, Rittmeyer could’ve had one of his own, peeling off of his defender at the near post, creating a 1v1 with the keeper, but he couldn’t supply the finish to put the icing on the cake.
However, the Battery were calm on the ball and after three minutes of added on time, the referee blew for full time.
The victory gave the Battery an all important victory going into the last day of the season. The three points means that the playoff hopes are still alive as the Battery face Bethlehem Steel with the chance to extend their season on Saturday, October 19th. Kick off is at 7:30PM.
TOP IMAGE: THE CHARLESTON BATTERY CELEBRATE FOLLOWING TAYLOR MUELLER’S OPENING GOAL AGAINST MEMPHIS 901 ON SATURDAY. ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO