The Charleston Battery earned a point against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday in a 1-1 draw at Al Lang Stadium. Tampa Bay scored in the first half, but Charleston fought their way back into the game in the second half when Augustine Williams scored the equalizer. The Battery secured their first point against the Rowdies since 2020 in what was a continuation of strong performances for the Black and Yellow.
The action started at Al Lang Stadium with both teams taking their time to settle into the match. Tampa Bay made a number of advances into the Battery’s final third and Leland Archer handled the Rowdies with ease. The first real chance of the night came in the 10th minute when Jake LaCava struck the crossbar from inside the box. Both defenses held firm through the half-hour mark to keep their opposition in check.
Tampa Bay managed to get on the board first in the 34th minute via a strong shot by Leo Fernandes. Although Charleston’s defense was well-positioned, the shot had enough pace to get past everyone and into the back of the net. While the Rowdies looked to build upon their momentum, the Battery would not give any ground. Tampa Bay were thought to have added a second goal in the 42nd minute, but the referee’s flag was raised for offside in the build-up.
Goalkeeper Hugo Fauroux made a pair of strong saves in the final eight minutes of action to keep the scoreline at 1-0 heading into halftime.
Play resumed with the Battery pressing for a goal after registering just one shot in the first half. Matt Sheldon sent in a solid strike in the 56th minute from outside the box that went just wide of the goal.
Charleston scored the equalizer in the 63rd minute when Augustine Williams tallied his sixth goal of the season, assisted by Romario Piggott. The goal was the product of some brilliant passing inside Tampa Bay’s half of the field, initiated by Mauro Cichero. Cichero played the ball to Andrew Booth and Booth then picked out Piggott with a pass over the top that the Panamanian midfielder redirected to Williams for the score.
With the terms level, both Charleston and Tampa Bay pushed hard for a go-ahead goal in the time that remained. LaCava threatened again in the 86th minute with a shot on target that forced Fauroux into making a diving save – he would have four saves in total. On the opposite end moments later, Booth eyed up a chance for a match-winning goal from inside the box, but his attempt was blocked by Aaron Guillen. In the 97th minute, defender Preston Kilwien, an ex-Rowdies U23 player, was called upon to make a crucial diving block against LaCava inside the block to preserve the 1-1 score.
Charleston held on to earn a point in the draw, extending the positive run of form with points secured against two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference (Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay).
Head Coach Conor Casey was proud of his team’s resiliency and ability to adjust, which he said helped the team level score in the second half.
“The guys showed a lot of character and how far the group has come in their belief to be able to win games,” said Coach Casey. “In the first half, I think we had some issues with dealing with Tampa Bay’s build-up and not being able to get enough pressure on their center backs. But, we hung in there, we made some plays and we kept the game close coming into halftime.
“We made some tactical changes at the break which helped us get a little bit more pressure on the ball and make things clearer. We got the goal at the right time and were the better team in the second half, so I’m just really proud of the effort overall.”
Forward Augustine Williams commended the squad for their development as shown in their performance against Tampa Bay on the road.
“To come in here against one of the best teams in the league and earn a point, it’s an amazing feeling because of how much we were grinding,” said Williams. “It’s a big step forward and it was excellent collective work.”
On the gains the team has made in recent matches, Williams’ message was clear: trust the process.
“It hasn’t been an easy start, but it’s all about trusting the process and making sure that we keep going and grinding,” said Williams. “Everything is a building process and the belief we have is profound.”
Coach Casey believes the away draw will help continue the momentum the team has found in the middle portion of the season.
“I think this result energizes the team and gives them confidence,” said Coach Casey. “We beat a good Pittsburgh team last week and now we’ve earned a really good point on the road.
“It shows that we can play with any team in the league when we get things right and we have the right mindset, which we have. They are together and now I’m excited for the rest of the year to see what we can do.”
Charleston’s next stop is in Oklahoma for an away match against FC Tulsa on Saturday, June 25, at ONEOK Field. The match will close out the brief away stand before the Black and Yellow return to Patriots Point to face Atlanta United 2 on Wednesday, June 29. Tickets for the midweek match can be purchased via SeatGeek.com, the club’s exclusive digital ticketing provider.