Battery fall on the road 2-1 to FC Tulsa
TULSA, Okla. – The Charleston Battery saw their two-game unbeaten streak end Saturday as the Black and Yellow fell 2-1 to FC Tulsa in a hard-fought road battle at ONEOK Field.
Tulsa’s JJ Williams scored twice in the first half to give the hosts an early lead. However, Romario Piggott pulled a goal back just before halftime to keep the Battery in the match. Charleston battled relentlessly throughout the second half for an equalizer but were unable to level the match before the final whistle.
Action kicked off with the Battery on the front foot, Andrew Booth and Augustine Williams were among the key players leading the Charleston offense forward at the start.
Williams had the night’s first shot on target in the 2nd minute, but goalkeeper Austin Wormell made the save. Minutes later, Booth drove the ball into the box for a wide shot that was deflected and landed towards Romario Piggott, who redirected the ball just wide of the post. Booth tested Wormell again in the 8th minute and the goalkeeper made another save.
While the Battery were controlling much of the match, Tulsa opened the scoring in the 17th minute when JJ Williams found the back of the next after receiving a Bradley Bourgeois cross. Charleston were undeterred and continued to press forward into the final third. The Battery had a series of seven shots peppered off in the 27th minute that Tulsa’s defense was able to block, denying the visitors an equalizer.
Tulsa doubled their lead in the 34th minute when JJ Williams broke away unmarked on a free kick taken by Rodrigo da Costa to head home his second goal of the night.
Romario Piggott pulled a goal back for the Battery in the 45th minute, rewarding his side’s offensive efforts to cut into Tulsa’s lead. Mauro Cichero picked out Piggott from the edge of the center circle with a through ball that met Piggott on the move. The Panamanian took a few steps to gather himself before tallying his second goal of the season. Charleston held almost 60% of possession in the first half.
Play resumed with both teams looking for the night’s fourth goal. Bourgeois sent in a shot that was blocked in the 49th minute and Cichero looked to sneak in an equalizer in the 57th minute that went narrowly wide of the left post. Charleston held 71% of possession through the first 15 minutes while aiming to keep Tulsa without any options for an additional goal.
As the half progressed, Tulsa held firm in resisting the Battery’s relentless advances.
The Black and Yellow’s reinforcements made their presence felt, with the fresh legs of Dominic Oduro, Aidan Apodaca and Enock Kwakwa off the bench helping to drive the team forward in the latter stages of the match.
Apodaca nearly picked out Augustine Williams inside the box with a clear look on goal in the 83rd minute, but Johnny Fenwick broke up the pass at the last second. In stoppage time, Apodaca again played a cross from the byline towards Augustine Williams and Oduro, however neither were able to connect and redirect the ball in. The Battery took their fifth and final corner kick in the last minute of stoppage time, but did not convert as Tulsa saw out the 2-1 victory.
The return of Enock Kwakwa was among the brighter spots for the Battery during the night, with the Ghanaian midfielder making his first appearance in a match since March 27 against Atlanta United 2.
“I thought there was more in it for us tonight, we’re disappointed to lose, we had some good momentum coming in and deserved more out of the game,” said Coach Casey. “But, they continued to fight for 90 minutes until the last whistle. From an effort and mentality perspective, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
While the Battery created many chances, Coach Casey said the team needed to do more in converting those opportunities.
“I think in the first half, we just needed to be a little bit cleaner with the ball and our runs,” said Coach Casey. “In the second half, Tulsa got a lot of numbers behind the ball, it’s tough to break teams down when they’re defending with nine guys back.”
Battery defender Preston Kiwlien commended his fellow teammates for their tenacity through to very the end of the match.
“We had a lot of chances and we just couldn’t convert, which is unlucky, but it just really shows the mentality and the grit of the team to do fight like that multiple games in a row,” said Kilwien. “We’re not going to give up, no matter what’s going on in the game. We’ve been pushing so hard for the last few weeks that today just was just another one of the times we had to push through.”
The squad won’t have to wait around long to try bouncing back , with only three days until they take the field at home against Atlanta United 2.
“It’s super important to turn the page quickly,” said Kilwien. “We’ve been having to have short-term memory this year, not dwelling on things and just moving on, knowing that we have more games and more chances to prove ourselves. So, we’ve got to rest up, recover and go again Wednesday.”
Coach Casey agreed and believes in the team’s ability to rebound at home.
“No time to hang our heads, the group is still in a good place,” said Coach Casey. “So, we come back home now, we got to get after it and have short memories. There is a big chance Wednesday night for us to play at home in front of our crowd and get three points.”
Looking ahead, the Battery return to Patriots Point for a midweek matchup against Atlanta United 2 on Wednesday, June 29, at 7:30 p.m. ET. As the only midweek game at Patriots Point this season, the club looks forward to a packed house with $2 beers all night. Limited tickets are still available through SeatGeek.com, the Battery’s exclusive digital ticketing provider.
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