The Charleston Battery can count themselves unlucky Saturday evening, having lost to Toronto FC II. They had the majority of chances in the game, but were unable to put away their opportunities and were made to pay for it, as a goal at the start of the second half for the hosts was what separated the two teams.
Visa problems meant the Battery were without key players Obi Woodbine, Maikel Chang and Romario Williams, while Jeffrey Otoo was also unavailable. This meant there was another reshuffle in the XI for the Black and Yellow. Odisnel Cooper was in goal, with Skylar Thomas replaced Woodbine at left back, with Tah Brian Anunga, Justin Portillo, Naveal Hackshaw and Kotaro Higashi in midfield, Higashi dropping into his more natural wide position to make up for the loss of Chang, and Attaula Guerra would partner Ricky Garbanzo up front, as the striker Williams would again have to wait for his full return from the Gold Cup after having previously come on as a sub in the previous match.
The game took awhile to get going, and it wasn't until the 25th minute that the Battery had their first chance of the match. A long ball looking for Garbanzo would eventually fall to the feet of Attaula Guerra, who put a curling effort agonizingly wide of the top left corner.
Three minutes later, Naveal Hackshaw would turn a quick 1-2 on the edge of the box before receiving the ball back on the right of the box, but his low ball across was cut out by the goalkeeper.
Skylar Thomas would earn a corner on the half hour mark, but the set piece was quickly cleared.
On 37', Garbanzo was involved again, this time playing an inch-perfect ball into Naveal Hackshaw, who would control well but shoot straight at the 'keeper.
After 42', Odisnel Cooper looked troubled as he was sent sprawling to his left after an attacker would cut in and have a pop at goal. The ball went wide in the end, but clearly, Cooper was taking no chances.
Kotaro Higashi looked to create on the stroke of half time, holding off his marker on the far touchline before getting to the edge of the box and finding Attaula Guerra, but he couldn't get the ball out of his feet before swinging his foot toward goal after missing the ball completely and having the chance cleared away.
And in stoppage time in the first half, Higashi would create again, this time finding Quinton Griffith on the overlap, who created space for a shot and forced the goalkeeper into a good save at his near post to keep the scores level.
And so, to end the half, the Battery were the more creative of the two sides, though they would have to put away the chances if they were to get anything from the game.
They came out again on the front foot to start the second 45. Ricky Garbanzo latched onto a ball and created some space for himself on 48', but his shot was wide of the target.
A minute later, Attaula Guerra would shoot from an angle, but his effort would again drift wide.
And then, the Battery would pay for their failure to convert, as a ball from the middle got in behind the defense, and Shaan Hundal would latch on, taking a touch before slotting the ball home past Cooper in goal.
The ball forward was not unlike Garbanzo's ball to Hackshaw in the first half, but a better finish was applied, and most would say the goal came against the run of play, with the Battery having finished the opening half, and beginning the second half, creating chances for themselves. In this instance, however, they would learn the importance of taking chances
Shortly after, on 58', Cooper was forced into a save to deny Toronto insurance, after another long ball fell to Hundal, and Cooper saved at his near post.
The game then began to get bogged down in midfield, with the Battery having most of the possession, but very little chances until they would pile on the pressure late.
The Battery would earn a corner with nine minutes left, which was played in at the back post for Garbanzo, whose curling effort toward the far corner was saved expertly by the goalkeeper and out for another corner, only for the same to happen again, Garbanzo making the run at the back stick, but this time the ball was cleared.
In the 93rd minute, Justin Portillo's semi-desperate shot from distance would bounce towards the 'keeper as time would look as if it were running out, but they would get one more chance.
A free kick was given just outside the center circle in the Toronto half, and all the big bodies would go forward. The ball was launched in toward the back post and into the melee of rising bodies in what was probably the best dead ball service of the afternoon. In amongst the bodies, the goalkeeper would come out with a fist to punch, but mistime it, and the ball would roll into the net. However, substitute Nico Rittmeyer would be called for a foul, adjudged to have impeded the 'keeper's jump as the 'keeper fell over Rittmeyer on the way down. This was somewhat strange, as both players were going for the ball, and Rittmeyer was dwarfed in the jump by the 'keeper, who got a fist to the ball, but mistimed it completely. Given that fact, it remained to be seen what exactly the referee saw himself, but the Battery can feel aggrieved to have been on the end of such a bad call.
Nevertheless, the bad call was necessarily the reason they lost the game, having failed to convert so many chances, but at such a crucial time in the match, it was the difference between one point and none, and even those can be important at the end of the season when all is said and done.
The Battery next return home to face New York Red Bulls II on August 12th. Kick off is at 7PM, and you can watch it on the club's website, or on MyTV Charleston.