In a second half comeback Saturday night, the Charleston Battery knocked off Atlanta United 2, 3-2. While some early mistakes by the Charleston side put Atlanta up by 2, the Battery kept in fight for a full 90 minutes with goals in the 57th, 59th and 91st minutes. The 3 points with the win place Charleston firmly in second place for Group H and in playoff contention.
Fighting till the end has become a common theme for this Charleston team of late. Saturday was the third game in a row that the Battery had to come from behind. After two road draws last week, they finally sealed the deal with the victory back at home against Atlanta.
Zeiko Lewis continued his team-leading (4) scoring campaign with 2 goals on the evening. His equalizing goal in the 59th minute turned the tables as the Battery held a steady attack and wore down the young Atlanta team in the second half.
Mauro Cichero is steadily finding his footing with two games in two matches against Atlanta. The new signing for 2020 showed his versatility as Coach moved him further forward in the box for the second half with promising results. He has now scored in both his first and second professional starts for his career.
The Battery had their work cut out for them early in the first half as Atlanta’s threatening forward Macky Diop continued to menace the Battery backline. A pass across the top of the box to Diop through a fray of Battery defenders was punched low to the right side of the goal past Battery netminder Phil Breno. Yet the Battery showed their continuing development as a unit controlling the ball for more minutes than any previous half played (58% possession) and showing flashes of attacking brilliance. But, as in previous matches, some key defensive lapses were taken advantage of by the Atlanta side. While hoping to make big plays off of the corner kick this match, the Battery only had 4 first-half corners that failed to convert. The Battery settled for the 1-0 deficit and recollected in the locker room.
The first five minutes of the second half also didn’t go the Battery’s way as Atlanta converted a corner kick in the 51st minute to go ahead by 2. Breno had a brilliant block but couldn’t get it out of a packed box and Atlanta’s Efrain Morales knocked it in on the rebound. The tides began to shift minutes later as both Cichero and Lewis scored and equalized within two minutes of each other. Not settling with their own scores on the evening, it was all Cichero and Lewis for the go ahead goal. After a throw in from defender Kyle Nelson, Cichero sailed it from midfield over the Atlanta defense to a perfectly placed Lewis to knock it with the side of his foot from the left side of the goal. “I made my run, Mauro crossed it and I just had to make sure I put it on target,” Lewis commented.
On the comeback win, Coach Mike Anhaeuser commented, “We really put ourselves in a hole. But we had the time, we knew if we had enough chances, the wind was with us. It shows what this group does. We made some adjustments and tried to get on them and press a little bit. Almost went with 2 forwards and the first one Mauro got really turned the tides. You could see them getting tired, put them under pressure and looks like the game really caught up with them. To comeback from 2 down at home, we just need to make sure we start better next game because we came out a little flat.”
On how the team has come together Coach added, “Up front you’re starting to see a couple guys with their combination play and have confidence to do that. That caused two of our goals tonight. If we can do that earlier and more often, we’re going to be very potent.”
The Battery travel to face North Carolina FC on Wednesday for a one-and-done iteration of the fan-run Southern Derby.