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Battery Lose Late to Tampa in Playoff Exit

The Charleston Battery has been eliminated from the USL Playoffs at the Conference semifinal stage after a Lucky Mbosana goal in the 79th minute was enough to see the Tampa Bay Rowdies into the next round.

In what was a frustrating, physical battle between two of the Eastern Conference’s best teams in 2020, it became clear as the match went on that it would require a stroke of luck or individual brilliance to get over the line. A 79th minute cross into the box met the head of Lucky Mbosana, who took advantage of Battery goalkeeper Joe Kusminsky’s hesitation off his line to supply what was ultimately the game-winner.

A succession of corners early on for the home side was well defended by the Black and Yellow, having fallen prey to the Rowdies well talked-about attack from corners in the two sides’ last meeting in the regular season.

Otherwise, the game took a while to get going, though it was Miguel Tejada who forced Joe Kuzminsky into his first save of the evening. 

It came in the 38th minute as Zach Steinberger combined with the striker to set up a chance for Tejada at the top of the box, but the effort was right at Joe Kuzminsky in the Battery goal.

At the other end, after 42′, Zeiko Lewis tracked a ball down inside the 18-yard box and would eventually play the ball across, but no one would continue the run to get on the end of it to fire the Battery in front from close range.

The two teams went into the half time interval, having spent 45 minutes waiting for each other to flinch, but both sides stuck to their tasks.

The Battery then looked to liven up proceedings after 49′ as Zeiko Lewis beat his man on the byline, looked up, and had a shot toward the near post. Evan Lauro was equal to it, however, and the score stayed level.

Not unlike the Lewis effort, attacker Nicque Daley would run at the Tampa defense with earnest a little while later. He would then cut in on his left and shape to shoot toward the far corner. But a last-ditch challenge took all the power off the ball as it rolled harmlessly into the ‘keeper’s arms.

Tampa then began to grow into the game. Looking for a late winner, the home side earned a free kick on the edge of the box with 11 minutes to go. 

Zach Steinberger was the man to serve the ball in. and Lucky Mbosaka was on hand to head the ball past Joe Kuzminsky. He had come halfway out of his goal to collect the ball, but the striker’s header came in before he had the opportunity to claim. 

The goalscorer could’ve had a second just a couple of minutes later. He broke up the field on the counter, made his way around a defender, but would shoot wide of goal in the 80th minute.

Despite half-chances created by the Battery in the closing moments, that’s how the match would end.

The Charleston Battery’s 2020 would conclude, having made progress on a difficult 2019, successfully beginning a new era of this historic club in a new stadium. 

While there is plenty to be excited about, the Black and Yellow’s quest for a fifth league title will stretch into 2021.

TOP IMAGE: ANGELO KELLY MARKS A MAN IN MIDFIELD IN THE BATTERY’S CONFERENCE SEMI-FINAL DEFEAT TO THE TAMPA BAY ROWDIES. TAMPA BAY ROWDIES PHOTO.

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