The Charleston Battery closed out their 2020 regular season in gritty fashion thanks to a second half double from Stavros Zarokostas in a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
The first half was incredibly physical. with very few clear cut chances for either side, but given that there were changes in store for both sides after the Battery’s midweek loss effectively made this a dead rubber, players were still playing for chances to feature in their respective playoff runs, which made the game all the more interesting.
Tampa Bay had the first chance of the match, earning a corner just before the half hour mark that left Deshawon Nembhard with work to do to clear, but the full back remained stout and the ball was cleared away.
Robbie Crawford, fresh off his first Battery goal last week, was the first to create a chance of the Black and Yellow as striker Arthur Bosua found him with a great cutback ball on the right, but the midfielder would put it high over the bar.
And, as the first half’s war of attrition wound down, the two teams would go into the break deadlocked.
It would take a mistake to finally get the game going. A misplayed Jordan Scarlett clearance let Stavros Zarokostas in behind, and as he raced toward the box, he stood the defender up before shuffling to his right and firing into the far post.
It was a wonderful goal from the attacking midfielder, who was making a habit of scoring big goals at just the right time.
However, as we passed the hour mark, in the 62nd minute, Tampa Bay would earn themselves a corner on the right. The set piece would get a flick on at the front post and Forrest Lasso would rise to meet the ball and send it back where it came from to even the score.
It was difficult to take from the Battery’s point of view, who found themselves beaten after a much better defensive display than the one that saw them give up four second half goals to lose in Miami in midweek, but there was still time left.
And the Battery would look to use it just two minutes later. Dante Marini would find Zeiko Lewis on the right, whose cross into the box would eventually take a flick off a Tampa body from a header and fall to Arthur Bosua, whose shot was cleared off the line by Forrest Lasso
The game would devolve a little bit back into what we saw in the first half, with both teams bogged down in midfield trying to create an opening.
A mistake by goalscorer Forrest Lasso would again allow Zarokostas to run at the Tampa defense, and on the edge of the box, he would play in substitute Temi Adesodun, who left the give and go for Zarokostas, who would side-foot the ball into the back of the net with just over six minutes left.
That’s how it would finish, with Charleston taking the full three points off of the Group H winners, which will bode well for the playoffs. The win also gave the Battery the No Quarter Derby in its second year, the supporter’s competition between the Regiment and the Tampa supporters groups, Ralph’s Mob and Skyway Casuals.
To begin the playoffs, the Battery’s Group H were paired with Group G. As of writing, with the Black and Yellow finishing second, they’ll face the Group G winners Charlotte Independence. The kick off time is not yet scheduled.
TOP IMAGE: TONIGHT’S GOALSCORER STAVROS ZAROKOSTAS IN ACTION AGAINST TAMPA IN AUGUST AT PATRIOT’S POINT SOCCER COMPLEX. ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO