Arthur Bosua stepped up to the plate as his goal in the first half of Extra Time gave the Charleston Battery a 2-1 win over rivals the Charlotte Independence in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal.
Nicque Daley‘s opener in the third minute was the third fastest goal in USL Playoff history, but it was cancelled out by Hugh Roberts in the second half. Bosua’s winner from a Jarad van Schaik free kick came as he beat Charlotte keeper Brandon Miller to the ball and headed into an empty net to take the Black and Yellow to the next round.
The match was only the second meeting of 2020 between the two rivals, while the first ended in a 1-1 draw. Despite an hour delay due to rain, The game didn’t take too long to get going, and it was the visitors who were the quickest out of the blocks.
A pinpoint Zeiko Lewis ball from the right found Mauro Cichero streaking away, and he looked to have been fouled in the box before he got the chance to shoot, but Nicque Daley didn’t wait for a whistle and slotted the ball home for 1-0.
It was a lesson in why you play to the whistle, as the Charlotte defenders stopped, expecting the referee to blow for a penalty, and the only man alive to the situation in Daley was on hand to put his team in front.
But after a sleepy first ten minutes, Charlotte woke up, and Ray Ortiz went dangerously close to levelling after a quarter of an hour as his shot beat Joe Kuzminsky in goal via a deflection but would hit the inside of the post.
But Daley was involved again after 24′ when he controlled a lobbed pass and ran at his defender, eventually finding Stavros Zarokostas, who forced Brandon Miller in the Charlotte goal into a save. The ensuing corner, however, was cleared.
Half an hour in, a header off a cross from the left by Luke Haakinson would loop up and look like it would trouble Joe Kuzminsky, but the ball ended up on the top of the net.
Haakinson would get another opportunity just eight minutes later, this time forcing a save out of Kuzminsky as his low driven shot looked destined for the bottom right corner, and even though Kuzminsky couldn’t hold on, AJ Paterson would clean up.
Kuzminsky again would be called into action on 41′ from a free kick that he cleared out for a corner, which was ultimately wasted.
And that’s how the first half ended. The Battery had done well to apply the pressure and score early, but their hosts had begun to come back into the game as the half wore on.
Ray Ortiz would again be on the end of a chance as he cut in from the left on 58 minutes, the Battery defense standing off the midfielder, leaving Joe Kuzminsky to scramble across his line to stop a powerful low effort, but the shot went wide.
But then, on 63′, a foul on the right of midfield gave Jake Areman a chance to waft one into the box. A flick header on the top of the six yard box was initially saved by Joe Kuzminsky, but Hugh Roberts was there to pick up the rebound and level the scores at 1-1.
After having the better of play in the late first half and early second 45, Charlotte could say that they maybe deserved the goal, but from a Battery standpoint, who remained just about as solid as could be at the back, it was a let down. Nevertheless, the score was level, and both sides still had it all to do.
A Battery corner on 66′ had Leland Archer climbing highest, but the ball went off his shoulder and was easily collected by Brandon Miller.
Both teams had their opportunities to win it in normal time, but the closest was Mauro Cichero, who combined again with Zeiko Lewis and forced a save from Brandon Miller off of a powerful effort from the left of the box that looked destined for the top corner.
And so we went to extra time. Both teams looked tired, both physically and mentally, drained by the heavy pitch in the rain. But a spot in the next round was on the line.
It would take a while to get going, but the Battery would earn themselves a free kick after 101′, and Jarad van Schaik would step up. His wafted ball in would be met by Arthur Bosua, who beat goalkeeper Brandon Miller to the ball and headed into an open goal as the Charlotte defense couldn’t get back on the line in time.
It was one of those gritty goals, and Bosua was exactly the type of man you want on the end of a cross like that. The Battery had the lead, but there was time enough for the hosts to have another say.
And to that end, it was an Enzo Martinez through ball for Dane Kelly on 107′ that spelled trouble for the Battery, the former Charleston striker would control, beat his man, and try to slide the ball into the net, but Joe Kuzminsky was equal to the effort and the ball was cleared.
That’s the way it finished. The Battery would advance to the Conference Semifinals in a week’s time, taking on the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Kick off for that match is yet to be determined, but will take place at Al Lang Stadium and be streamed on ESPN+.
TOP IMAGE: ARTHUR BOSUA (PICTURED IN A PREVIOUS MATCH) WINS A HEADER ON. HE SCORED THE WINNER AS CHARLESTON ADVANCED TO THE EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIS SATURDAY. MIAMI FC PHOTO.