The Charleston Battery surrendered a two goal lead in the second half on Sunday afternoon and were forced to share the points with New York Red Bulls II.
Stavros Zarokostas opened the scoring following a bad touch from New York goalkeeper Anthony Marcucci in the opening four minutes, before Erik McCue added another in his full debut with a shot back across goal from a tight angle off a corner midway through the first half had the Battery up at the break. Unfortunately for the home side, the Red Bulls turned things around within six minutes, through a penalty on the hour mark and six minutes later as Joe Kuzminsky was beaten on a 1v1 for what ended up being the final goal of the afternoon.
The Battery came out the better of the two teams, and it was simply Zarokostas staying with the play that led to the opener. New York goalkeeper Maracucci received a pass from his defender, and a poor first touch allowed the striker to steal in and take the ball from the ‘keeper, round him, and send the ball into an empty net.
The goal was a strange one as play isn’t usually allowed to go on if the ‘keeper is challenged, but the Black and Yellow, with an early lead, weren’t about to complain.
However, the Red Bulls had their first chance just four minutes later, with an attack down the left wing that ended with a shot high over Joe Kuzminsky’s bar.
In the 23rd came a hard challenge in the area that led to a corner for the Battery, but nothing came of it as the referee called a free kick.
And then, just a minute later, Erik McCue would win a second ball from a corner, contort his body at the back stick and fire the ball in to the net.
The home side deservedly found themselves two goals ahead, and in the hot afternoon sun it looked as if things were going perfectly.
Two minutes from halftime, Kuzminsky did well to smother after he was forced to gather an effort from the left edge of the box after some good buildup from the visitors, and his save sent his side into the break with the lead.
Following the break, the Battery had a corner cleared before the Red Bulls earned a penalty on the hour mark.
The attack came down the left, and it was Leland Archer that slid across to deal with it, but the center back got his feet caught up with the attacker and the referee pointed to the spot.
It was a questionable decision by the referee but one that stood with no VAR in USL play, and Mandela Egbo would finish into the bottom left corner to bring one back.
The Battery struggled after that to pick themselves up, and just six minutes later, the defense for the Black and Yellow found themselves at sixes and sevens as midfielder Roald Mitchell found himself running free to beat Kuzminsky 1v1 to fire New York level.
It wasn’t a good look for the Battery, who looked as if they were coasting at one point in the first half, to being level halfway through the second.
Even having conceded two in quick succession, Kuzminsky was needed to make another massive save just two minutes later to deny Mitchell a brace as he ran through again.
New York then found themselves in control of the game, and could have won the encounter, as Joe Kuzminsky was once again forced into a save with five minutes left from a corner.
Despite their second half showing, substitute Nicque Daley had the last effort of the evening, cutting inside from the right and firing a shot into the side netting.
And that’s the way it finished. What looked from the start like a good afternoon for the Black and Yellow ended on quite the sour note. To this point the two draws and a loss mean that the Battery’s only positive results early in the year have come against New York, though it is a long season, and there is time enough to turn things around.
That’s what the Battery will look to do in two weeks time when they welcome LA Galaxy II in a cross-conference matchup to Patriots Point on Friday, June 4th. Kick off is at 7PM, and the match will be available to stream on ESPN+.
TOP IMAGE: DEFENDER ERIK MCCUE CONTORTS HIS WAY TO A SECOND GOAL ON HIS FULL DEBUT TO PUT THE BATTERY UP 2-0 HALFWAY THROUGH THE FIRST HALF. ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY AND DESIGN PHOTO.