Memphis 901 FC lose hard-fought contest to Charleston Battery
The skill of game management was on full display for Charleston in their 1-0 win, despite Memphis’ best efforts to comeback from an early deficit.
The close proximity in the standings (a five-point difference coming into the match) reflected on the pitch with a few pivotal moments being the difference. Otherwise, the two teams played with similar intensity and composure.
Memphis did have an advantage in possession, total shots and perhaps had the best chance of the game (Rodrigo da Costa hitting the post), but struggled to get into the scoring column.
With the race to the playoffs in full effect, the loss puts Memphis in fifth place just behind Louisville City FC.
Akeem Ward was kept busy on the right wing in the opening few minutes of the match. He dealt with the first few attacks before Charleston drew a foul from a Laurent Kissiedou tackle, but the set piece and accompanying corner ultimately did no harm.
Outside of that stretch, the two teams went back and forth in possession with neither challenging the goalkeeper early on. Whistles came often with physical midfield play as defenders struggled to stay in front.
The action ramped up in the 15th minute, starting with Memphis breaking the Battery press and attacking the space behind. The attack unfolded quickly and left 901 FC vulnerable behind. Roberto Avila, the Charleston Striker, found himself one-on-one against Lucas Turci in transition. A quick dribble move was all that was needed to bolt past and score at the near-post — giving Avila his 3rd goal of the season.
Charleston used the momentum to test the Memphis defense with a few more threatening chances which might have been a wake up call for the visitors. Memphis started to maintain the ball for longer periods and venture into the opposing half more often. The improved build-up play was still missing that final pass or technical prowess to break through and challenge Trey Muse in goal.
Memphis’ back line was almost caught sleeping as the contest neared halftime. Charleston noticed an unmarked Nick Markanich in the penalty box and sent an in-swinger his way. His uncontested header did not find the target as it strayed far right.
Eager to go into the locker room a goal ahead, Charleston started to play a bit of keep-away from the lurking Memphis attackers. A sudden errant pass, however, interrupted their plans and gave Memphis their best chance of the half. A clattering of bodies and a ball into the box gave Rodrigo da Costa a free strike at goal near the penalty spot but the ball clanged off the right post and was cleared.
Trey Muse would provide the first highlight of the second half, stopping and collecting a powerful free kick from Lucas Turci. Charleston would have to defend against another set piece minutes later, the foul drawn by the clever captain Leston Paul, but Aaron Molloy’s strike would travel a bit too high.
Still, pressure was being applied to the Battery back line with Memphis looking like the more positive side. Giving up most of the possession battle, Charleston was doing a solid job absorbing the 901 pressure and attacking when the time came on the counter.
There were three consecutive attacks halted by an offsides call within a six minute span — one from Memphis on Luiz Fernando who scored from a Rodrigo da Costa assist. The two would be subbed off shortly after (along with Laurent Kissiedou) for Dylan Borczak, Nighte Pickering and Rashawn Dally.
As the game dwindled down, the chippiness level certainly increased. There were shoves and physical tackles, and quite a bit of barking from the sideline from both sides. Both head coaches were given a yellow card (Memphis’ bench also received one in the first half). Three players were also booked.
Memphis would not be able to find the equalizer as only three of their dozen shots were on-goal. Charleston were the more clinical side and defended their early lead for a full 90 minutes.
There will be a welcome week of rest and training before 901 FC travels once again, this time to Detroit City FC on Saturday, September 2. Kickoff will be at 6:30pm.
Photo Credit: D’Angelo Connell Photography
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