Two first half goals from Zeiko Lewis and Nicque Daley were enough to see the Charleston Battery past The Miami FC, earning the Black and Yellow their 13th consecutive playoff berth with a 2-0 win on Saturday night.
In what was a difficult, physical game for both sides, it took two pieces of quality to make the difference. Both sides had their chances, but it was the first real chance of the evening that opened the scoring.
It was a simple, route one, pinpoint ball from Leland Archer who found leading goal scorer Zeiko Lewis after 18 minutes. who took the ball down, and while the touch was ahead of him, the striker beat Miami ‘keeper Mark Pais to the ball before a tasty chip would put the Battery in front.
It was a wonderful goal that again showed the different ways in which the Battery have scored this campaign, this time utilizing Archer’s passing ability while Lewis put his dose of flair into it to give his side the lead.
However, straight down the other end, Miami fashioned their first chance. Janos Lobe created space for himself on the wing before playing the ball back to Vincent Bezecourt, whose initial shot was blocked by his own man before a diving header on the follow up would go narrowly wide of Joe Kuzminsky’s goal.
Arthur Bosua failed to convert a guilt edged chance on 27′, when a ball from Robbie Crawford would find Zeiko Lewis, who squared to his strike partner, but the shot on the stretch would go narrowly wide as Bosua played through contact.
And then, shortly before half time, a pass forward by Nico Rittmeyer would be intercepted by the Miami defense. Zeiko Lewis would put pressure on his man, forcing the defender to go back toward Mark Pais, but the ball was played just a bit short. This gave time for Nicque Daley to steal in, take Pais out of the play with a first touch, and fire home to make it 2-0.
It was a well executed press from the home side, who have done so to great effect all season, and Daley, who scored his third of the campaign, needed one after a few quiet games.
Just before the half time break, a Miami corner from the left was met by Hassan Ndam, but his snap header went just wide.
That was how the first half ended, with the Battery in front and looking hungry in what otherwise was a physical affair.
That physicality spilled over into the second half and was a major part of the reason the game slowed down, as neither team had that great of a chance for the better part of the second half. There was a return for Jesus Ibarra off the bench following a lengthy injury layoff, however, and it would be fellow substitute Dante Marini who fashioned the Battery’s best chance of the second 45.
On 78′, Logan Gdula made his way up the pitch with intent before laying off to Marini, who found himself in the middle of the pitch. Spotting Pais off his line, the winger decided to take a chance and curl one into the far corner. The shot lacked power, but forced Pais into an acrobatic top drawer save to deny the Battery a third.
And that’s how it finished. The Battery secured their 13th consecutive playoff berth with three games to spare, officially ending Miami’s hopes, the win making sure that the Battery could not be mathematically caught.
The first of those comes next Saturday, September 26th, against Loudon United to finish the Battery’s home campaign. Kick off is at 7:30, and the match will be streamed on ESPN+.
FEATURED IMAGE: ZEIKO LEWIS CELEBRATES OPENING THE SCORING AGAINST MIAMI WITH A TASTY CHIP. CHARLESTON BATTERY/BEN CLEMENS PHOTO.