ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Stavros Zarokostas scored twice, including a late game-winner, as the Charleston Battery grabbed a 2-1 victory against the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday night that ended the Rowdies’ chances at becoming the top seed in the Eastern Conference of the 2020 USL Championship Playoffs.
In rainy conditions, neither side was able to get much attacking headway in the opening half-hour, and the first big chance arrived on the half-hour mark for the visitors as Arthur Bosua created space on the right side for a low cross to the center of the penalty area that Robbie Crawford met first-time but was unable to control as it flew over the crossbar.
The Rowdies were unable to produce many chances in the first half, and nine minutes into the second half it was Mustapha Dumbuya that forced a save out of Battery goalkeeper Phil Breno from a tight angle on the right side of the penalty area. Charleston took the lead in the 57th minute, however, as Rowdies defender Jordan Scarlett mis-controlled a ball forward that allowed Zarokostas to gain possession on the left. Zarokostas cut back inside Scarlett to get into the left side of the penalty area and then fired a low shot that picked out the right corner of the net to put the Battery ahead.
The Rowdies hit back five minutes later, though, as a corner kick from the right by Leo Fernandes was flicked on at the near post by Sebastian Guenzatti to an unmarked Forrest Lasso at the back post, and the center back headed home against his former club.
Lasso was called into action at the other end in the 65th minute as a cross by Zeiko Lewis was headed down by Mauro Cichero and deflected into the path of Bosua, who attempted to fire on goal only to be thwarted by Lasso’s lunge that blocked the shot high over the crossbar. The Battery’s Leland Archer then got a key block of his own in two minutes later as Guenzatti tried to fire on target after a clever pass by Lucky Mkosana had played the Rowdies’ captain into a shooting opportunity.
With six minutes to go, however, Charlotte found the winner as Zarokostas pushed forward from midfield and picked out Temiloluwa Adesodun in the left side of the penalty area with a pass before continuing his forward run. Adesodun delivered a pass back to Zarokostas as he approached the top of the penalty area, and his first-time shot to the right corner flew just past the dive of Rowdies goalkeeper Evan Louro.
Tampa Bay pushed late to try and find an equalizer, and Max Lachowecki put the ball in the net after a cross by Scarlett had deflected to him inside the penalty area only for the offside flag to be raised. That proved the last big chance for the hosts, however, as the Battery took their third win against the Rowdies this season.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Stavros Zarokostas, Charleston Battery – Zarokostas scored both goals for the Battery as he made the most of his opportunities with three shots overall.