The Charleston Battery shared the spoils in a hard-fought matchup with the Ottawa Fury Saturday night.
The Fury took the lead twice, once from a free kick and again in the second half, but Romario Williams was there to cancel them out twice, scoring his fifth and sixth goals on the campaign respectfully, which drew him level with Djiby Fall of FC Cincinnati for the league lead in goals scored.
The Battery entered the evening at the top of the eastern conference, following two important wins over Rochester and Tampa Bay, and looked to continue momentum as the first full month of the season concluded.
The opponents came into the evening second from bottom in the table, but with the amount of experience they had at their disposal, they’re a threat regardless of league position, and so the Black and Yellow would have to be on their toes.
The first shot in earnest came from eventual goalscorer Williamson 12′, after the Battery endured somewhat of a shaky start, unable to control and keep possession in the early goings, though the young striker’s effort was saved.
Obi Woodbine’s long throw into the box two minutes later bounced before finding the chest of Forrest Lasso, though his attempt at a bicycle kick on the volley was less than stellar as he didn’t connect properly.
On 15′, A Lasso header connected with Williams, whose ball to Guerra nearly slipped the midfielder in on goal, but the pass was overhit just slightly, giving Ottawa the chance to collect and clear.
Shortly after, the Battery were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position, but it was initially cleared before Maikel Chang‘s ball back into the mixer had Tah Brian Anunga taking his own crack at a bicycle kick attempt, and while he connected, the ball went over the bar as he caught a little too much of it, the exact opposite of Lasso’s previous attempt.
But on 20′, an Ottawa Free Kick was cleared for a corner to the visitors, which was also dealt with, before the referee gave a free kick as Anunga was adjudged to have fouled his man as he tried to lead the counter, giving Ottawa a free kick roughly 25 yards from goal.
It was Ryan Williams who stepped up, and the effort beat Odisnel Cooper at his near post as it whipped past the wall, giving the visitors the 1-0 lead.
It was a little harsh, given that the Battery were creating chances of their own before the goal, and while the referee maybe could’ve been better placed for the award of the free kick, the set piece was indeed taken well. The Battery would have to find it within themselves not to let the heads drop and get back into the game.
On 36′, the Battery, ever dangerous from corners, had one played in on the right, but it was easily cleared by the Fury, but signs were showing that the Black and Yellow weren’t ready to give up on the game just yet.
And they would find a lifeline just before halftime. With four minutes of the first half to go, Maikel Chang would play a ball into Williams. The center forward still had work to do, though, and would force some space between him and the defender enough to turn on the ball using some great strength, before shooting from close range and levelling the scoring.
The scoreline, to that point, seemed fair. Both sides were creating half-chances, Ottawa’s game plan to pull the center backs out of position creating a little bit of space in behind was working, for the most part, though they were struggling to find the final ball. The Battery were relying on interplay of their front four, something that they’d been doing all year to great effect so far, but they were having to resort to a game of patience, and though frustrating at times, had finally paid dividends in the form of an equalizer.
And on the stroke of half time, the home side could’ve taken the lead. Another Obi Woodbine throw in bounced in front of the ‘keeper and created chaos, but while a Battery player could control, the ball ended up behind the goal and a goal kick was given.
The half time break came and went, as an already interesting game would get even better in the second half.
Three minutes into the second half, Ottawa ‘keeper Callum Irving would come and collect a corner, but would shank his clearance. The ball would eventually fall to Maikel Chang, who played Williams, as he was just about level with the penalty spot. Surrounded by his own group of defenders, the striker would turn, but he would struggle to get an effort on goal and the ball would be cleared.
On 51′, Forrest Lasso played himself into trouble by taking a touch too many and giving the ball away, and the counter would eventually lead to Cooper making a good save to keep his team from going behind again.
But five minutes later, that would change. The Fury would earn a corner on the left, and Ryan Williams, already with a goal to his name, would lay it up to Ramon Martin Del Campo, who would power a header past Cooper at the near post.
And on 59’, Cooper would be called into action once again, having to keep out another well-taken free kick from the visitors, as it looked that if anyone was to score next, it would be Ottawa, having created the better chances since their second goal.
Soon enough, the changes would come for the Black and Yellow. With 20 minutes left, Dante Marini and Heviel Cordoves would enter the game for Kotaro Higashi and Tah Brian Anunga respectively.
With just over a quarter of an hour left, Chang would play Romario Williams through, who used his pace to get past his defender. He would attempt a deft chip of the ‘keeper, but didn’t quite catch it, and the effort would go wide.
Time began to run out for the home side, but with six minutes left, a lifeline came again. Substitute Heviel Cordoves would play the overlapping Maikel Chang with a deft little touch that set the winger away. He would find himself level with the 18 yard box, and would play a great ball to Williams in the middle, just forming it around the defender, giving his teammate nothing else to do but tap the ball past the ‘keeper. It wasn’t without a little bit of hesitation as the shot lacked a bit of power, but still squirmed its way into the net as the Battery were level again.
With three minutes of injury time left to go, Skylar Thomas would replace Obi Woodbine, perhaps with the purpose of causing problems if they found themselves with a free kick in the dying moments.
And a free kick would materialize with a minute left, and though all the big bodies would come forward for the home side, the ball would be cleared.
And so, the game would finish all square. The Battery remain top of the east, with the same number of wins as 2nd place Tampa Bay (The first tie-breaker in USL) but with a better goal difference. The Rowdies with a +4 GD, while the Battery are +8. The Battery also have a game in hand over Tampa, who’ve played seven including tonight, while the Battery have played six.
The Battery next face Bethlehem Steel at home on May 6th. Kick off is at 7PM, and for those unable to attend, you can watch the match on MyTV Charleston, or stream it on the club’s Website.
TOP IMAGE: MAIKEL CHANG NOTCHED TWO ASSISTS TONIGHT AS HE CONTINUES A RICH VEIN OF FORM. ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO