CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Charleston Battery clinched its 10th consecutive trip to the USL Championship Playoffs as a pair of first-half goals paved the way to a 2-0 victory against Miami FC on Sunday evening at Patriots Point. The Battery’s win also moved the club within three points of Group H leader the Tampa Bay Rowdies with one game in hand.
Looking to add to their eight-game undefeated streak, the Battery took the lead in the 18th minute. A floated ball forward from just inside the Miami half by Leland Archer picked out a central run from Zeiko Lewis, and the Bermuda international brought the ball down softly with his first touch before curling a finish into the top-right corner of the net past advancing Miami goalkeeper Mark Pais.
Miami almost responded immediately as Janos Loebe’s cutback pass from the left side of the penalty area found Vincent Bezecourt, who fired a low shot that hit a teammate in front of the net. The carom sat up nicely for Bezecourt to follow up with a header, but the finish went wide of the right post.
Charleston nearly doubled its lead just before the half-hour mark as Robbie Crawford delivered a fine pass from the left channel into the right side of the penalty area that Lewis redirected back across goal, but Arthur Bosua was unable to direct his sliding finish at the left post on target. A minute before halftime, however, Nicque Daley intercepted an attempted back-pass by Miami’s Brenton Griffiths from the left and nicked the ball past Pais before finishing from a narrow angle to put the Battery two goals up.
The visitors again went close to a quick response as Hassan Ndam’s header off a corner kick by Harrison Heath from the left went wide of the right post just before the halftime whistle blew. Tomas Granitto then fired a curling shot over the crossbar for Miami six minutes after the break, but for much of the second half the Battery were able to limit Miami’s clear looks on goal. Prince Saydee had a chance from a narrow angle on the left turned wide by Battery goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky, but that proved the lone shot on goal for the visitors in the contest.
Instead, it was the Battery that went closer to adding to their lead. With 11 minutes to go, Dante Marini hit a curling shot from 25 yards that produced an excellent one-handed save from Pais to keep the effort from finding the top-left corner of the net. But Charleston was solid enough with its two-goal advantage to put the game away from there as it booked its 13th consecutive postseason trip overall, dating back to the 2008 USL First Division season.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Zeiko Lewis, Charleston Battery – Lewis scored a beautiful opening goal, had two key passes and completed 26 of 34 passes overall and made two interceptions and eight recoveries defensively.