CHARLESTON, S.C. – Zeiko Lewis scored the only goal as the Charleston Battery took a 1-0 victory against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Friday night at Patriots Point. The win was Charleston’s second in a row against Tampa Bay, and moved the Battery within three points of the Rowdies at the top of Group H with a game in hand.
The Battery opened the game on top but despite getting into better positions were unable to find a way through a Rowdies defense that remained tight over the opening 25 minutes. The best chance in that spell for the hosts came to AJ Paterson, who picked up possession on the top-left edge of the penalty area after a deflected cross from the right and drove into the left side of the box, only to see Rowdies goalkeeper Evan Louro tip his shot from a tight angle over the bar.
Charleston did put the ball in the net just past the half-hour mark as a training ground set piece saw Robbie Crawford deliver a corner from the left to the top of the penalty area to Lewis. His driven effort was redirected home by Paterson into the left corner of the net, but the offside flag went up to keep the game scoreless at the break.
The Rowdies brought on Kyle Murphy and Malik Johnson in an effort to turn around momentum in the second half, and that energy produced a free kick in the 53rd minute that Leo Fernades curled over the crossbar.
The Battery grabbed the lead a minute later, however, as Angelo Kelly turned possession over just inside his own half and quickly delivered a pass upfield to Mauro Cichero. The forward held possession for a moment and found Lewis’ run as he looped into the left channel, and the Bermuda international feinted inside before turning back out onto his left foot for a low shot to the left corner.
Charleston almost doubled their lead with 16 minutes to go as Stavros Zarokostas cut back a good low cross from the right toward the penalty spot, but a late-arriving Dante Marini was unable to control his finish under pressure from a Rowdies defender.
Tampa Bay then turned up the pressure inside the final 10 minutes, and the Battery needed a key intervention from Jarad van Schaik to clear a cross behind for a corner as the visitors threatened. Off the ensuing set piece, the delivery by Fernandes found Forrest Lasso for a header, but the shot went over the crossbar to relieve the pressure.
That proved the final big chance for the visitors, though, as Charleston comfortably saw out the remaining minutes to extend their undefeated streak to eight games and open further the chance to top the group at the end of the regular season.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Zeiko Lewis, Charleston Battery – Lewis notched the only goal of the game, had five shots overall, three key passes and completed 24 of 29 passes overall to keep the hosts ticking in the attacking third.