The Charleston Battery clinched thier spot in the Eastern Conference playoff Wednesday night with a 1-1 draw on the road against USL old guard rival the Richmond Kickers.
The match got off to a chippy start, both teams playing very physical leaving the officials struggling to maintain control of the rivals.
Battery Keeper and Atlanta United signing Alex Tambakis would put in a stellar performance for Charleston racking up a pair of back to back clutch saves in the 30th minute as Kickers forward Anthony Grant found the first real chance of the match and Jackson Eskay tried his luck off the subsequent rebound.
Richmond would eventually draw first blood in the 50th minute as Richmond's Grant found himself all alone behind the Battery back four picking up a laser of a through ball from midfielder Owusu Sekyere, letting off and absolute rocket off a shot to the back post leaving Tambakis no chance to react.
Charleston wouldn’t stay down for long as yet another Atlanta signing would come up big for the Battery as substitute drew a foul to earn a dangerous free kick from just outside Richmond’s penalty area. Veteran midfielder Justin Portillo launched his kick into the top-right corner of the net to bring the Battery back to level terms.
Richmond looked to respond quickly with midfielder Yudai Imura connecting on an absolute cracker of a shot from outside the top of the penalty area but Tambakis would have none of it, tipping the ball just over the crossbar to keep the game level.
As the match clock ticked down the Battery looked to find a spark in the attack , bringing on forward Heviel Cordoves and midfielder Maikel Chang, but despite a late push Charleston just couldn’t find a way to put the Kickers away settling for a 1-1 draw.
With the draw the Battery slide to the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference table but with a win Saturday against Rochester Charleston could potentially find their way back into the top four to earn home field advantage for at least the first round of the playoffs.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Tambakis had a monster night for the Battery racking up three game saving stops.
KEY TAKE AWAYS
With the draw the Battery booked thier sixth consecutive trip to the USL playoffs. Now Charleston will look to finish as high as possible in the Eastern Conference table to secure a home playoff berth.
The veteran Battery defender returned for his first start since picking up a shoulder injury three weeks ago.
REST FOR CHANG
Maikel Chang has been the key to the Battery attack this season. His absence for the starting XI against Richmond may have came as a surprise to some, but the young midfielder got a much needed break ahead of an important showdown with Rochester on Saturday.
HOME vs. Rochester Rhinos - Saturday 9/3, 7:30 p.m.