Portillo’s Free Kick steals point against Kickers; sends Battery to Playoffs

Justin Portillo’s wonderful free kick gave the Battery an equalizer, thus earning them a point as they drew 1-1 on Wednesday night against the Richmond Kickers.

It was probably a fair result given the physicality of the match, and yellow cards were brandished to both sides over the 90 minutes, with challenges being central to both teams’ goals.

The first half didn’t give us much to talk about, with both sides creating half-chances, but lacking the final ball on a number of occasions. The two defenses were stout, and space was tight in the first 45, the best chance perhaps falling to Richmond after Shawn Ferguson misjudged a low cross after 17′ and fluffed a clearance, which fell to the feet of Jackson Eskay. Eskay expected the ball to be cleared however, and therefore was on the back foot, and did eventually get a weak effort on target, but it was saved by Alex Tambakis.

Romario Williams would get the ball in a dangerous position for the Battery, but just as he was shaping to shoot, he was closed down by William Yomby with a great slide tackle.

Not too long after, Jackson Eskay was through again, and again Tambakis would come to the rescue, this time producing a double save, one which drove the ball away from goal, and another which was tipped around the post. The corner led to nothing, and the teams remained scoreless into half time.

There wasn’t really any cutting edge to either team in the first half. Both sides looked to play the ball around and look for the movement to open up instead of pushing to create, and the 0-0 score as the teams went in was justified.

But it didn’t take long for that to change. Though the man looked to have been fouled, the referee allowed the Kickers to play on, and Richmond’s Fred Owusu Sekyere played a ball through that split the defense and gave striker Anthony Grant an easy finish to open the scoring after 50 minutes.

It had looked like a foul leading up to the goal, but nonetheless the Battery were behind, which quickly got some changes brewing for the away side. Heviel Cordoves was the first to come on for Romario Williams who seemed to cut a distant figure for long stretches as the service up to him wasn’t great. The substitute Cordoves would at the very least give something else for the defenders to think about, as William Yomby was winning the battle with Williams in one on one situations.

But despite going down, the Battery never looked out of it. In the 62nd minute, a Battery corner was headed back across goal, and Dante Marini got on the end of it with a volley that looked to be destined for the back of the net had it not been for William Yomby’s clearance.

Jeffery Otoo came on shortly after, and his impact was soon felt as he would burst toward the box with first meaningful touch, and be knocked off the ball on the edge of the area, setting up a Justin Portillo free kick from 19 yards that dipped and curled into the net, leaving Andrew Dykstra stranded and knotting things up once more.

But with 20 minutes left in the match, Alex Tambakis had to come up big after goalscorer Grant played Yudai Imura through, but Tambakis rose to the occasion as he got his fingertips to the powerful effort and tipped it onto the bar and out for a corner, which led to nothing.

Yudai Imura would again be involved with 8 minutes to go. He latched onto a loose ball on the left and kept it alive by playing it through the six yard area, but the ball went hopelessly through everyone and was cleared away.

It was then the Battery’s turn to make a late push, after  86, there was some good build up play by Maikel Chang  find a pass to Heviel Cordoves, who then played Attaula Guerra, but Guerra mishit the effort, which went wide.

On 89′, a Battery corner was cleared and then put back into the area by Chang with the low cross, but his searching ball was cleared for a corner which was wasted.

There was a scare right at the death for the Black and Yellow, who gave away a corner in added time, though Alex Tambakis would claim, and the referee would blow the final whistle soon after, giving each team a point.

The result means that with five games left, the Battery have clinched a playoff spot. With a win, the Battery could’ve leap frogged Richmond into third, but remain one point behind the Kickers with the draw. Though they will surely be happy with the playoff berth and the point away from home.

The Battery return home next, facing the Rochester Rhinos on September 3rd. Kick Off is at 7:30.

TONIGHT’S GOALSCORER JUSTIN PORTILLO LOOKS ON FOLLOWING A SET PIECE THAT HE PLAYED IN. PHOTO CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY

 

 

 

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