Battery Clinch Postseason Spot After Dominant Display
The Charleston Battery clinched an Eastern Conference playoff spot with a 5-1 win against the Bethlehem Steel in what could be the final match played at MUSC Health Stadium.
Charleston got things started in the 23rd minute with Zeiko Lewis linking up with Arthur Bosua for the opening goal of the match. After a few quick passes at the top left corner of Bethlehem's eighteen-yard box, Lewis picked out Bosua who split the Steel FC backline and directed the cross past Matt Freese. It was a relatively quiet first half as Bosua's goal sent the Battery into halftime leading 1-0.
The match sprang to life in the 65th minute beginning with Bosua's second goal of the match. Kotaro Higashi played the final ball to Bosua after Angelo Kelly intercepted a poor Bethlehem pass to begin the attack. The Japanese playmaker linked up with Ataulla Guerra and controlled the return pass before pushing it past two Bethlehem defenders and sliding it across the box towards Bosua for a tap in.
Charleston added a third in the 74th minute by way of a penalty, converted by Ataulla Guerra. Guerra and Bosua pressured the Bethlehem goal, making their way inside the box with a series of short quick passes. Guerra's shot was eventually blocked out to a waiting Lewis who battled Zach Zandi returning the ball to Guerra. Guerra slipped a pass through to Lewis who went down in the area. Guerra's goal ended any chance of a Bethlehem comeback and erased any doubt that the Charleston Battery would clinch a playoff spot.
Bethlehem's leading goalscorer, Faris Pemi Moumbagna, picked up his eleventh goal of the season to cut the deficit, with a brilliant goal in the 78th minute. Moumbagna collected a deflected cross just inside the Battery's penalty area, and with a quick turn, curled a shot past Joe Kuzminsky.
AJ Paterson scored two goals in four minutes to end the match in style. Paterson headed home his first in the 81st minute following a short corner taken by the Battery. Angelo Kelly lofted a beautiful ball in and Paterson caught Freese in no man's land, sending his header over the Steel FC keeper. He grabbed his second in the 84th beating Freese with a low shot at the back post after Guerra found him making an attacking run on the left side of the field.
With a place in the postseason secured, the Battery will face either North Carolina FC or Ottawa Fury, dependent on results, in a play-in round match to open the 2019 USL Championship Playoffs on Wednesday, October 23rd at 7:00 PM. The match will be streamed on ESPN+.