The Charleston Battery dropped their second game of the month’s three-game homestand Saturday after a 0-2 defeat to New Mexico United. The rival black-and-yellow club tallied early goals in each half for the difference while Charleston were unable to capitalize on increasing chances throughout the evening.
Charleston and New Mexico kicked off under a sublime Lowcountry sky with temperatures in the high 70s. The visitors were able to pull ahead in the 5th minute when Neco Brett found space in the Battery’s 18-yard box and slotted a shot past everyone. Charleston began to find a footing at the quarter-hour mark, making runs into the New Mexico defensive third. Andrew Booth registered the Battery’s attempt on goal to that point, snapping a shot on target from the top of the box that forced goalkeeper Alex Tambakis to make a decisive save.
New Mexico looked to add a second goal in the 38th minute, however, goalkeeper Hugo Fauroux made a diving effort to redirect the ball away from his net. Another crucial defensive play came minutes later when Brett St. Martin made a goal line stop to deny Chris Wehan’s shot at the last second. The Battery nearly equalized in the waning minutes of the half when Booth picked out Aidan Apodaca inside the box. Apodaca sent in a headed shot that was tip saved by Tambakis.
While the visitors took a 0-1 advantage into the break, Charleston held a majority of possession in the first half (53.2%) and registered more passes in the opposition half (113 to 98).
Despite Charleston building momentum heading into the interval, New Mexico quickly added their second goal of the night just 16 seconds into the new half when Wehan found the back of the net. The hosts looked to respond when Fauroux connected with Apodaca on a goal kick in the 50th minute but the striker was unable to get his shot on frame. The Battery pressed forward into New Mexico’s defensive third yet were unable to crack the code to pull back a goal.
The combination of Matt Sheldon, Booth and Apodaca continued to drive the Battery offense forward. Sheldon registered a shot in the 66th minute that was blocked. Augustine Williams had a promising look on a counterattack down the left side and opted for an attempt on frame in the 73rd minute. The shot was saved by Tambakis as Williams appeared to slip mid-shot on the slick surface. Clear opportunities began to fade and Joe Schmidt would register Charleston’s final shot in the 85th minute before the final whistle blew.
A redeeming moment during the night was when DZ Harmon returned to action for the first time since March 28 against Atlanta United 2 as a substitute in the 77th minute.
Battery Head Coach Conor Casey commended his squad’s ability to create chances throughout the contest despite the adverse scoreline.
“We created a lot of chances tonight, which was good, but we weren’t able to convert them when we needed to,” said Coach Casey. “I think our chance creation was definitely up from previous games, which is a good thing.”
Coach Casey, however, insisted the side must create opportunities over the course of the whole match.
“I think the squad showed a good reaction near the end of the first half and there was time in the second half where we had good periods,” said Coach Casey. “But as a whole, you have to do it for a full 90 minutes, and that’s where we’re lacking.”
Battery defender Preston Kilwien attributed the team’s moments of success to their ground
“When we play fast and play on the ground, I think we have a lot of success,” said Kilwien. “I think we have to just keep working on these things and then it’s going to work out eventually.”
Kilwien, also back in action after missing the previous two matches, said he felt good in his return.
“It went well, I’ve been itching to get back for two weeks now,” said Kilwien. “While it was nice to be back with the guys, I wish we could have pulled it off tonight.”
Both Coach Casey and Kilwien commended the strong support from the crowd at Patriots Point, which included another sold-out Supporters Section.
“It was great, we love the support,” said Coach Casey. “We want to reward them with some good results, but right now they aren’t getting any, so that is disappointing for us.”
“The support was great again tonight, I just wish we could have pulled it off for them,” said Kilwien.
The Battery close out their May home stand in a week’s time with the Lowcountry Summer Kickoff at Patriots Point when The Miami FC visit Patriots Point on Saturday, May 21. Fans can look forward to summer festivities in the Breeze Airways Pavilion and a Battery summer koozie giveaway for the first 500 fans through the gates. Tickets are available on SeatGeek, the Battery’s exclusive digital ticketing provider.