The Charleston Battery handed the Tampa Bay Rowdies their first loss of the USL season thanks to an excellent first half strike from Stavros Zarokostas.
The game was a test between the top two in Group H, with both beginning to streak away as we head into the home stretch of a shortened 16-game campaign. The visitors came in unbeaten with 21 points from nine games, and while the Battery couldn’t overtake their opponents with a victory coming in four points behind, knocking off the group leaders, who previously looked somewhat indestructible would be a huge statement for a Charleston team that had taken time to get their feet under them after the restart.
Their choppy early restart form had finally given way to an impressive three game winning streak, in which seven different scorers had found the back of the net.
The early goings were testy from both sides, as both showed that they were up for a fight, with the match ending with as many as 17 fouls for each side.
The match was paused as players gathered at the center circle seven minutes in for a moment of silence that lasted from the 7th minute until 8:46 in solidarity with the movement for Racial Justice in America.
The eventual match winner came in the 21st minute. Build up play from the Battery would fall to Angelo Kelly, who took the ball forward before playing a pinpoint outside of the foot ball up to Zarokostas. The midfielder would run at the Tampa defense, leaving a defender for dead with a nifty ball chop before aiming for the far corner and finishing via the inside of the post.
Both teams traded other opportunities, with Sebastian Guenzatti going close in the second half for the visitors, but Joe Kuzminsky was equal to it. Substitute Dante Marini also forced Evan Newton into a point blank save at the other end after tidy buildup play in the box.
But it was the Battery who prevailed, giving Tampa their first loss of the season and closing the gap between first and second in Group H to just one point.
The Battery next face Miami FC on Saturday, September 5th. Kick off is set for 7:30. You can stream the match on ESPN+.
TOP IMAGE: BATTERY PLAYERS CELEBRATE FOLLOWING STAVROS ZAROKOSTAS’ EVENTUAL GAME WINNER.ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO