Battery Battle in 2-1 Loss to Birmingham
BIGMINGHAM, Ala. – The Charleston Battery fell 2-1 on the road Wednesday to Birmingham Legion FC. While the Battery saw significant improvements in possession and distribution, Legion FC overcame Aidan Apodaca’s first-half equalizer with the game-winner in the 72nd minute. Charleston will look to continue improving, despite Wednesday’s result, as they prepare for a three week home stretch next month, beginning with Memphis 901 FC on May 6th back at Patriots Point.
The night started with the hosts looking to get off to a quick start, testing goalkeeper Hugo Fauroux within the first 10 minutes of the match. Fauroux, who started his first league game of the season, made a strong save in the 9th minute on Prosper Kasim. Kasim would, however, find the back of the net in the 11th minute. The Battery looked to respond in the 19th minute with Adian Apodaca and Mauro Cichero registering shots that were both blocked.
Charleston equalized in the 33rd minute when Augustine Williams found Apodaca inside the box with a perfectly-placed cross, which Aidan then turned into his second goal of the season. Williams’ cross went over goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel and right to Apodaca who redirected the ball into the net. The Battery began to find momentum as the half wore on and Apodaca nearly added a second goal before the break with a shot that required a decisive Van Oekel save.
In addition to the scoreline being level, much of the possession and opportunities were even between the sides. Birmingham held slim majorities in possession (54% to 46%) and shots (eight to six), whereas Charleston had more passes in the final third (61 to 39).
Play resumed after a brief delay due to the lighting system at Protective Stadium. The Battery were eager in the early minutes of the second half to press for a second goal. Apodaca had a handful of chances that nearly accomplished that ambition. First, in the 57th minute, the striker sent in a shot following a counter-attack that required a diving save from Van Oekel to keep the game level. In the 64th minute, he played a long ball over the top to the edge of the box with a strong shot that went just narrowly wide of the post.
Despite the Battery’s press, Birmingham managed to add a second goal in the 72nd minute when Kasim fired a potent shot from outside the box to the top corner of the net. Charleston aimed to even the scoreline again following the Kasim goal. The visitors had a promising opportunity in the 78th minute when Matt Sheldon connected with Williams, who was in near the six-yard box. Williams caught the ball off his chest but was unable to put a proper touch to get a shot on frame. Birmingham would hold onto the victory from there.
Battery Head Coach Conor Casey gave his assessment of the night following the match.
“It was a disappointing night, that’s not the result that we wanted, I think the guys put in a lot of effort,” said Coach Casey. “We came up short on a couple of plays and we weren’t clean enough with the ball. The guys fought hard, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t enough.”
Goalkeeper Hugo Fauroux echoed Coach Casey’s sentiment on the evening.
“Tonight was frustrating, but I think there are a lot of positives to take from the game,” said Fauroux. “We’re getting better, the result may not show it, but I know we’re getting better. We created more chances, had more possession of the ball, and it was a good team we played against while on the road.”
Fauroux said the team recognized the areas for improvement to address ahead of the next match on May 6.
“From a defensive perspective, we were able to keep the ball a little bit more now and we were going forward more efficiently,” said Fauroux. “Now, we just got to finish these chances and be more organized because we keep getting scored on in counterattacks.
“We’ll keep working, with patience and hard work, we’ll get to where we need to be.”
The Battery will look to make the most of the week and a half of training leading up to the home match against Memphis
“We have to keep digging in, fighting and improving each day,” said Coach Casey. “We have time to get some good training in over the next nine days towards Memphis, but we certainly have to start turning things around in the performances.”
The Battery return to Charleston on Thursday and prepare for a three-week homestand, beginning with the May 6 match against Memphis 901 FC for Healthcare Heroes Night at Patriots Point.
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