The Battery fell 0-1 to the Tampa Bay Rowdies in a hard-fought match Tuesday night at Patriots Point. It was a physical game that saw red cards issued to both sides in the second half with a 63rd-minute goal from Lewis Hilton lifting the visitors past Charleston. The Battery remain one point off from a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division following the result and will look to bounce back on the road next Wednesday.
The first half saw both sides size each other up without much ground given either way. Tampa Bay started the match aggressively and with an emphasis on possession, retaining the ball 56.4% of the time in the first 45 minutes. The visitors tested Joe Kuzminsky in the 9th minute when Steevan Dos Santos sent a header towards the center of the goal and Kuzminsky was there for the save. The Battery had a good look in the 19th minute when Ben Di Rosa provided a well-placed cross to Zeiko Lewis inside the box, but Lewis’ attempt was too tall for the crossbar.
Josh Penn looked to build on the recent forward momentum in the 25th minute with a shot from the edge of the box. Penn lined up his aim and sent a bullet at the right post, however the ball was just wide of the net. The half continued to play out with back and forth movement from both teams with Robbie Crawford and Penn helping drive much of the forward movement for the Black and Yellow. Kuzminsky came up big with a clutch punch in the 39th minute following a Tampa Bay free kick, denying the visitors any scoring opportunities. The half ended scoreless with the Battery out-shooting the Rowdies five to three.
The Charleston offense started the second half aggressively pressing forward. Penn, at the edge of the box, received a blocked attempt by Angelo Kelly and sent in a strong shot that was right to Evan Louro, who made the save. Charleston continued to advance the ball into the Rowdies defensive third in search for a breakthrough. Lewis and Claudio Repetto had a close opportunity in the 57th minute with a Lewis through ball to Repetto. Louro, however, just beat Repetto to the ball to prevent the Italian from getting a shot off. The Rowdies were quick to counter minutes later as Leo Fernandes was in a dangerous spot inside the box, but Di Rosa and Pat Hogan were able to intervene and disrupt the potential opportunity.
Tampa Bay struck first in the 63rd minute via a Lewis Hilton strike from outside the box, assisted by Dos Santos’ cross from the left corner. The Battery had handled the Rowdies’ movement well to keep the visitors at bay until that point. Charleston were eager to find an equalizer after going down 0-1, winning a pair of corners minutes later, yet were unable to convert. Tampa Bay were reduced to 10 men in the 82nd after William Antley was issued a red card following a dangerous challenge on AJ Paterson moments prior, flaring tempers between the sides. Leland Archer’s evening ended prematurely in the 86th minute when he was shown his second yellow card of the contest, making the game 10 versus 10. The Battery pressed on in stoppage time with a threatening look inside the box, but were unable to find an equalizer before the final whistle blew.
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