Battery defeat Miami FC for first victory at Patriots Point
Charleston-native Joel Bunting’s second half goal secures 2-1 win over Miami FC
CHARLESTON S.C. – The Battery secured their first home victory of the 2021 season with a 2-1 win over Miami FC in front of another sold-out Patriots Point. Charleston-native Joel Bunting scored what proved to be the match-winning goal in the 50th minute to break the 1-1 tie. The goal was the first of Bunting’s professional career, who also made his first professional start.
Charleston returned to play in their first home game since May 23 and featured a 3-5-2 formation for the first time this year. Miami struck first in the 7th minute when Lamar Walker’s free kick weaved through the fray and past goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky into the net. Miami had a flurry of early chances with Walker and Callum Chapman-Page providing shots in the first 20 minutes of play.
The Battery struck back in the 24th minute when Zeiko Lewis sent a scissor kick past the Miami defense to even the score 1-1. Lewis was assisted by Burke Fahling, who crossed the ball into the center of the box for Zeiko to level the terms. The goal was Lewis’ second of the season. Charleston had a chance to take the lead in the 41st minute when Angelo Kelly had the ball in a dangerous spot in front of the net, but his shot went over the crossbar.
Charleston entered the second half with energy as Lewis sent a shot in the 47th minute but his attempt went wide. The Battery took the lead in the 50th minute when rookie Joel Bunting scored his first professional goal to go ahead 2-1. Bunting was assisted by AJ Paterson, who redirected the ball at the goalline to Bunting after Kelly crossed the ball into the 6-yard box.
The Battery defense held their ground in the face of a resilient Miami squad to preserve the lead. Charleston goalkeeper Joe Kuzmisky saved a threatening shot from Adonijah Reid in the 64th minute, and the Battery blocked Lamar Walker’s 65th-minute shot. The Battery almost doubled their lead in the 76th minute when Leland Archer sent in a dangerous header, but his attempt missed to the right. Charleston stayed resolute to maintain the 2-1 lead for their first home victory of the season.
Battery forward Joel Bunting discussed coming back from down a goal.
”We didn’t start well, we went down one-zero, but we managed to work our way back and put some pressure on them,” said Bunting. “Zeiko got the goal back and he gave us a lot of energy going into the second half.”
Making his first professional start, the Charleston native was excited to provide a show for his old Bishop England teammates.
”It’s surreal and I really can’t explain it, two months ago I wasn’t even on the team. Just being from Charleston and working my way up, it’s amazing,” said Bunting. “AJ had the great cross and it was just a reaction, right off my knee and into the back of the net.”
Battery Head Coach Michael Anhaeuser discussed the team’s start in the first half and was proud of their resilience.
”We go down a goal, you know, they get that free kick. It’s a little unlucky,” said Anhaeuser. “But credit to the guys coming back. Zeiko Lewis picking up a fantastic finish to make it one-one and then we settled down.”
“We came out the second half really sharp, and for Joel to get his first goal in front of the home crowd was incredible,” said Anhaeuser. “So, that’s an amazing result for us to get your first one at home, and that leads to bigger and better things.”
Friday’s game was the first match at Patriots Point since May 23 after consecutive postponements at home but Anhaeuser said the team was glad to be back out there.
”You know, the guys have been sitting in the locker room way more than playing, I’ll tell you that’s why we came out a little rusty at the beginning,” said Anhaeuser. “But I thought they did a great job, they’re so happy to play. And now we’re going to have more games [played] every week. Two games a week, the guys just love to play.”
The Battery now prepare to get a win back over Charlotte Independence on Wednesday, June 23.
”We’ll give [the team] a day off to get the mentality down and then we come in Sunday to get prepared for Charlotte,” said Anhaeuser. “Charlotte’s going to be a tough game, so we have to be on our toes and drive the same way we did tonight.”
The Battery will travel to the Sportsplex at Matthews to face Charlotte Independence on Wednesday night before returning to Patriots Point Saturday, June 26 to welcome Loudoun United FC. Tickets for Saturday’s contest are still available on SeatGeek.