A goal from Devon Sandoval ended up being the winner for New Mexico United as the Battery were beaten in the two sides’ first ever matchup on Monday night.
While it was the first ever meeting, the sides do share history, as former Battery Player and Coach Troy Lesesne manages the team with the help of another familiar face, ex Battery midfielder Zach Prince. The playing staff also features Mike Azira, who won a title in Charleston, and goalkeeper Alex Tambakis.
It was all change to the Battery’s starting 11 that drew 1-1 with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
Modesto Menez joined the Black and Yellow on a one match loan from League One side Fort Lauderdale C.F., while the Battery announced the signing of MJ Petry to an academy contract as the midfielder lined up on the bench. Both signings were made due to injuries and international absences, but there was good news at the front end of the pitch as Zeiko Lewis returned from international duty to slot in alongside Claudio Repetto and Nique Daley.
It was New Mexico who got started on the front foot however, as Josh Suggs’ cross from the right in the third minute would find Sergio Rivas at the back post, but his header would be put wide of goal.
The Battery would struggle to find their footing in the game early on, and would be punished, as in the 15th minute, a corner from the left would be played to Juan Pablo Guzman, whose cross found a rising Kaylen Ryden, and the defender would put a towering a header past Joe Kuzminsky in goal.
The Battery’s early struggles to get out of their own half was what led to the goal, and while the header was brilliant from Ryden, the goal had been coming.
However, the goal would give the visitors the wake up call they needed, and while a few set pieces for the Black and Yellow were wasted, they would eventually find their equalizer.
The resurgence came by way of a counter attack sprung by Zeiko Lewis, who found DZ Harmon to his right, and the winger would provide an inch perfect cross for Claudio Repetto, who chested home his first goal for the Battery.
Having finally woken up, the Battery found themselves level. It was well worked, and the Battery could be commended for their graft.
The two teams would go into the break level, which was a fair reflection of how the half went, with the Battery answering well from the early setback of the hosts’ goal.
However, New Mexico would again come out the brighter of the two sides for the second half.
After 48′, a long ball up to Devon Sandoval would look as if it meant the striker was in, but the assistant referee would raise his flag for offside, and Joe Kuzminsky would clear from the free kick
However, in the 51st minute, a cross from the right had Kuzminsky scrambling across his box to get to the ball first, and while he got a hand to it, the ricochet meant to clear the ball would go off of Patrick Hogan and back into the path of Sandoval before it rolled into the back of the net.
It’s the type of thing that goes against a team when they’re struggling in games, and while it was a poachers’ instinct to stay with the ball from Sandoval, the Battery can count themselves unlucky to have conceded in such a fashion.
But as with the first half, the visitors would pick themselves back up.
DZ Harmon would earn his side a corner just past the hour mark with a deflected effort, but while the big boys were up from the back, the set piece missed everyone and went out of play on the other side of the pitch.
On 65′, a well worked attack would lead to a cross in by Nique Daley from the right. The ball would find the goalscorer, Repetto, but he couldn’t add to his tally as he stabbed the effort high and wide.
Zeiko Lewis, known for the spectacular would then try an Olympico that had Alex Tambakis scrambling to get finger tips to it, but the effort would also go wide of goal.
Devon Sandoval was again involved on 79, when another long ball found him and forced a save out of Kuzminsky in goal to his left, before the ensuing corner would go to waste.
A Burke Fahling pass out of midfield would them find Logan Gdula to his right, and the full back would motor along the byline, working his way into the box on 83 minutes before playing off to Romario Piggott, whose shot from the top of the 6 yard box went high and wide.
There was one last chance for the Battery deep in stoppage time, when a free kick was given about 40 yards from goal. It would be knocked down into the path of Romario Piggott, but his shot was deflected down for a corner before the referee blew for full time.
Things got worse for the Battery after full time, as Burke Fahling would be given a Red Card after the fact, seemingly for protesting the fact that his side weren’t allowed to take the corner after the final effort.
The loss meant that the Battery slipped to their fourth loss of the campaign, but the games continue to come thick and fast as the Black and Yellow will return to Patriots Point on Saturday, July 17th to face Hartford Athletic. Kick off is at 7PM and those unable to attend will be able to stream the match via ESPN+.
TOP IMAGE: Angelo Kelly FIGHTS FOR A BALL IN MIDFIELD. NEW MEXICO UNITED PHOTO