CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Charleston Battery claimed their first home win of the 2021 USL Championship season as they rallied from an early deficit to take a 2-1 victory against Miami FC behind goals from Zeiko Lewis and Joel Bunting at Patriots Points on Friday night.
Looking to break a two-game winless streak, Miami threatened early as Lamar Walker controlled possession near the top-left edge of the penalty area, and after being given space as the defense sagged the Jamaican curled a shot to the top-right corner of the net that Battery goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky had to stretch to turn behind. Walker gave the visitors the lead soon after, however, as off a free kick from just outside the top-left edge of the penalty area he fired a low shot to the right corner that beat Kuzminsky, who was frozen by the threat of Paco Craig redirecting the ball as he cut to goal.
The Battery found few chances early, but the hosts hit back in the 24th minute as Lewis produced an outstanding finish to level. Controlling a ball from the left side near the top of the penalty area by Burke Fahling, the Bermuda international hit a turning finish into the bottom-left corner of the net for his second goal of the season.
Lewis was in the middle of the action again four minutes before halftime as Charleston almost took the lead as he delivered a cross from the top-left edge of the penalty to the far post as Angelo Kelly arrived from the right flank, but Kelly couldn’t control his half-volleyed finish and sent it over the crossbar as the game went to the break level.
Charleston took the lead five minutes into the second half, however, as local product Bunting marked his first professional start with a goal. Kelly began the play, skipping to the byline on the right to deliver a low cross through the six-yard area that was met at the back post by AJ Paterson, who turned the ball back across goal where Bunting turned home a close-range finish for his hometown club.
Miami tried to hit back in the 64th minute as Walker found Adonijah Reid at the top of the penalty area, and the Canadian forward’s first touch turned him into space to shoot, only for Kuzminsky to come out quickly and deny the effort. Kuzminsky had to be sharp again seven minutes later as Ariel Martinez lifted a pass over the Battery back line for Reid to run onto in the right side of the box, but the Battery shot-stopper claimed possession as he challenged, gathering the loose ball.
The visitors produced a late push for an equalizer as Charleston looked to defend its lead, and in second-half stoppage time it almost arrived as the ball came to Pierre Da Silva with his back to goal in the penalty area. The playmaker lifted the ball up with his first touch and then fired a bicycle kick toward the goal that flashed over the crossbar. That would prove Miami’s final chance, however, as the Battery held on for victory.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Zeiko Lewis, Charleston Battery – Lewis produced a sublime finish for the Battery’s opening goal, and looked dangerous on the ball otherwise with two shots and one key pass as he also completed 15 of 19 passes.
MIA – Lamar Walker 7’
CHS – Zeiko Lewis (Burke Fahling) 24’
CHS – Joel Bunting (AJ Paterson) 50’