The Charleston Battery picked up three points in a 1-0 win against Memphis 901 FC on Saturday night at AutoZone Park. It was a thrilling finish between the two sides who met for the first time since Memphis 901 FC joined the USL Championship prior to the start of the 2019 season.
Memphis controlled much of the first half action and forced the Battery back into a defensive shell early in the match. Charleston handled the pressure and looked for their attacking opportunities on the counter. While Memphis held the majority of possession (58%) in the first half, the Battery outshot 901 FC six to four and kept the hosts scoreless going into the half.
The Battery’s best chance of the first half came in the 18th minute by way of forward Zeiko Lewis. After a Memphis turnover in the defensive third, Tah Brian Anunga played a wide ball to Jarad van Schaik who whipped in a low cross that found the feet of Lewis near the penalty spot but the following shot was high and over the crossbar. Lewis would create a second chance for himself and the Battery after dancing through two defenders on the left side of the box before playing a pass that was intercepted by a Memphis defender.
Memphis had late first-half chances to open the scoring but were unable to finish. Their best chance came in the 42nd minute from an Elliott Collier header that hit the left post and was cleared by the Battery. Rashawn Dally’s headed chance in the final minute could have seen the hosts up at half but was handled comfortably by Joe Kuzminsky.
Kuzminsky’s back to back saves late in the 2nd half would set up a thrilling final ten minutes. In search of a game-winning goal, Memphis challenged Kuzminsky and the Battery backline with a number of shots, one of which came off the crossbar and back into play, eventually being cleared by the Battery. The home side were awarded three corners in a matter of minutes and the Battery did well to alleviate the pressure.
Substitute Dante Marini would score in the dying seconds of the match to steal three points on the road. Kyle Nelson provided the pass that ultimately found the feet of Marini. With everyone forward for a final attack, Nelson drove in a low hard ball that was initially parried away by Memphis keeper Jeff Caldwell. Marini was first to the loose ball beating out Caldwell and a number of Memphis defenders to score his second goal of the season.
“It felt great to be in a position to help the team win,” said Nelson after the match. “The pass kind of bobbled on its way through the box and I wasn’t sure if he [Marini] was going to get to it or not. We were pressured late but we were able to handle it. We have the grit and determination to get it done and we fight for each other.”
The Battery return home next Saturday for their May 4th match against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at MUSC Health Stadium. Tickets can be purchased by visiting tickets.charlestonbattery.com or by calling (843) 971-GOAL.
MEMPHIS: Caldwell, Mohamed, Burch, Pratzner, Charpie, Muckette (Graf 59'), Paul (Uccello 66'), Najem (Hackworth 77'), Lindley (YC 24’), Dally, Collier
Substitutes: Levene, Graf, Uccello, Bennett III, Grandison, Morton, Hackworth
CHARLESTON: Kuzminsky, Nelson, Mueller, Bolt, van Schaik, Candela (YC 26’), Anunga, Woodbine (Kelly 74'), Rittmeyer (Daley 87'), Bosua, Lewis (Marini 68', goal 90+3')
Substitutes: Breno, Paterson, Mason, Kelly, Marini, Piggott, Daley