The Charleston Battery were forced to settle for a point against the Charlotte Independence on Saturday, with the sides trading goals in the first half for a 1-1 draw.
It was a stark contrast to the draw they picked up against Atlanta in midweek, as the Battery ended the match with ten men for the second time in three matches, and had to play the last five minutes plus stoppage time with 10 men.
Both teams started rather brightly, and it was the hosts who had the first chance of the evening, though it was wasted as a Charlotte corner was headed wide.
On 14′, Zeiko Lewis had his first opportunity as he received a pass inside from the wing by Logan Gdula gave Lewis the chance to swing a left boot toward goal, but the effort was mishit wide.
Then, a minute later, the Battery thought they had a penalty as Nicque Daley was taken down on the edge of the box, but the referee gave a free kick, which Lewis hit into the wall.
The Battery then continued their dominance of the early goings when Angelo Kelly chested down for Romario Piggott, but his curling effort was met by the hands of Brandon Miller in the Charlotte goal.
The teams traded wasted corners before a Battery defensive header down from a long ball only met Derrick Gebhard, who took the space the retreating Battery defense gave him, only to shoot wide.
And then, on 39′, Dane Kelly tracked down a loose ball on the wing before going inside at Leland Archer and beating him for pace before firing a shot past Phil Breno and in at the far post.
It was a familiar story for the Battery during this campaign, who once again had the better of chances early, and were made to pay for not making the most of their opportunities, and found themselves behind.
But then, on 42′, Logan Gdula, who was taken out of the play that forced Archer into action against Kelly for the goal, dispossessed Derek Gebhard on the wing, passing for Romario Piggott, whose well timed ball found Zeiko Lewis, who worked his way to the byline before playing the ball into the middle.
The on-rushing defender, Aaron Maund, knew he had a decision to make, and stuck out a foot to clear, but instead played the ball into his own net, tying the score at one.
It was deserved for the amount of chances the Battery created, but the only regret is that it didn’t come earlier. Nonetheless, the two sides went in at half time level.
Gdula was involved again on the other side of the break, meeting a header at the front post on 47′, but the effort was over the bar.
Three minutes later, Enzo Martinez had his first real chance of the game when he got on the end of a through ball from Dane Kelly, and it seemed as if he’d be through on goal, only for the Battery defense to collapse on him and ultimately shepherd the ball out for a goal kick.
Up the other end, Romario Piggott looked to play Zeiko Lewis in on goal, but his ball was just a little ahead of the striker, who could only toe poke the effort into an on-rushing Brandon Miller.
A Charlotte break on 55′ only broke down and ended up in the hands of Phil Breno, but signs were there for of an interesting last 30 minutes.
Jay Bolt replaced AJ Paterson a couple minutes later, while Rennico Clarke also entered the game in what looked to be a positive sub. Leland Archer had figured in all three games of the Battery’s busy week, and was the man Dane Kelly beat to open the scoring, while Jay Bolt was also mostly in for fresh legs himself.
And just after the hour mark, a Charlotte free kick was headed back across goal, and had it not been for the intervention of Bolt, Dane Kelly would have had his brace on the doorstep. As it were, the ball was headed over the bar by the full back, and Kelly was adjudged to have fouled Phil Breno in a collision on the goal line.
Dante Marini came off for Deshawon Nembhard, putting him further forward than the full back position he had taken up in his starts this campaign, while Stavros Zarokostas looked to improve upon his already solid start to life at the Battery in a cameo, replacing Romario Piggott.
Phil Breno was forced into a smart save, when with 20 minutes to go, Aaron Maund headed a Charlotte corner toward the bottom left corner, only for Breno to equal it with a snap diving save, pushing the ball out of the box away before it was eventually cleared.
The game then began to get more and more stretched, and on 74′ Zeiko Lewis made his way into the box before laying off for the sub Nembhard, but his shot went wide.
With ten minutes of normal time to go, Enzo Martinez sent a wafted cross into the box from deep, and found Dane Kelly, but his shot went wide.
And on 84′, the situation got a little more tricky for the Black and Yellow. A pass from midfield allowed Dane Kelly to break, and it looked as if the striker would go one-on-one with Breno, but Rennico Clarke fouled the striker before he could make his way into the box, conceding a free kick and earning himself a red card.
The challenge needed to be made, though the red card maybe seemed a bit harsh, given that Jarad van Schaik seemed as if he was back to cover and negate the possibility of a last man challenge.
Regardless, the free kick was taken by Enzo Martinez and wasted, and the Battery remained in possession of a point.
Inside six minutes of stoppage time, Ray Ortiz for Charlotte found himself on the left of the box, and took a chance by shooting toward the far post, but Phil Breno flew to his right and was equal to the effort.
The save meant that the scores stayed level as the final whistle blew. The point meant that the Battery remain in second place in Group H, three points ahead of Atlanta United 2 with a game in hand before the teams face off next week.
That game is scheduled for Saturday, August 15th at 8PM at Patriots Point. You can stream the game on ESPN+.
TOP IMAGE: ZEIKO LEWIS (PICTURED LAST YEAR) PLAYED PROVIDER FOR THE BATTERY’S EQUALIZER BY FORCING AN OG OFF OF DEFENDER AARON MAUND. ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO