Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Rowdies
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Charleston Battery closed out both halves in strong fashion, the latter being the most crucial as Tah Brian Anunga’s 89th-minute score lifted the Battery to a 3-2 win against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday in front of a crowd of 5,016 at Al Lang Stadium. The match had its share of ebbs and flows for both sides as the Rowdies had the early lead on Joe Cole’s rebound. Charleston responded just before halftime with Forrest Lasso and Maikel Chang scoring back-to-back to take a 2-1 lead through the first 45 minutes. Georgi Hristov’s 62nd-minute score leveled things for the host side, but the Battery would ultimately find the final tally. Heading into the match, Tampa Bay had not allowed a goal in three previous home matches. With the win, Charleston improves to 4-1-0 (12 points) while the Rowdies fall to 3-2-1 (10 points).
34’ – TBR – Joe Cole
40’ – CHS – Forrest Lasso (Justin Portillo)
45’+2 – CHS – Maikel Chang (Quinton Griffith)
62’ – TBR – Georgi Hristov
89’ – CHS – Tah Brian Anunga
Three Things That Mattered:
1. Charleston had three shots on goal in the opening half and put two of them in the back of the net to carry some needed momentum heading into halftime. The Battery were certainly outplayed for the first 35 minutes or so in terms of creating chances and possessing, but they found some life down the stretch of the first 45. In the 40th minute, Justin Portillo’s free kick from the left side glanced off of Forrest Lasso’s head and into the right side of the frame past Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens to level the score at 1-1. Then in first-half stoppage time, Charleston’s Maikel Chang provided the highlight tally with a precise left-footed strike from long distance that snuck inside the left post for a 2-1 advantage.
2. Georgi Hristov, the Rowdies’ all-time goal-scoring leader, found himself in the right place for the Rowdies in the 62nd minute. Leo Fernandes’ left-footed free kick could have been punched out by Battery goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper, but his attempted bat at the ball was not hit cleanly. Instead, the ball popped up behind him at the edge of the six-yard area and Hristov capitalized with a left-footed redirect and his fourth goal of the season.
3. Collectively, the Rowdies were the more dominating team in the attack and had the home-field advantage to work with, as well nearly 70 percent of the possession. That said, Saturday boiled down to the team that made the most of its chances, and Charleston had the lasting moment in the final minutes. One of the Rowdies’ most sure-footed players, Luke Boden, could not quite clear the ball out of the box in the 89th minute and Tah Brian Anunga had the final say, slotting the ball into the right side of the frame for the win.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Maikel Chang, Charleston Battery – Chang had the tally of the match with a long-distance equalizer just before halftime against a Rowdies side that had not conceded a goal all year at home.
Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Richmond Kickers – April 29, 7:30 p.m. ET, Al Lang Stadium
Charleston Battery vs. Ottawa Fury FC – April 29, 7 p.m. ET, MUSC Health Stadium