BY JOHN ACE
An early goal from Dane Kelly got the Battery off to a good start before being pegged back just minutes later, but Adam Mena thought goal midway through the first half had won the match before the Lions got an equalizer with about five minutes to go to take a share of the spoils
The match got off to a slow start before some hard work by Jared Van Schaik on the left of midfield forced an errant pass that Kelly latched onto and burnt the defenders around him for pace before easily slotting the ball past the Dayton ‘keeper after just five minutes gone.
However, the Lions weren’t going down without a fight, and Brock Granger got an equalizer off of a corner played in from the right that the defence couldn’t deal with as Granger rose highest and got a free header past Odisnel Cooper in goal.
The scoreline was a bit worrying, as Dayton had won five and lost five on the road this season.
Despite the good early start from the home side, it was the Lions who would then have the better of possession for the next few minutes, making the Battery do a little bit of chasing, but order was quickly restored as far as the home side were concerned, and Quinton Griffith showed a quick turn of pace before a proposed link up with Kelly failed to materialize after 21.
But it wasn’t too long before something would get cooking, and it came by way of Adam Mena just two minutes later.
Midfielder Justin Portillo found acres of space in which to run after the defense for Dayton seemed to be expecting the shot, but it never happened as he was on his bike toward the byline, maneuvering space in which to whip a ball across goal, which was turned in by Mena for only his second goal of the season in what had to be the best team goal of the year so far.
The long ball has worked in previous meetings between the two sides this year, and John Wilson went looking for Dane Kelly shortly after the goal, but the Jamaican couldn’t quite catch up to the long ball.
Jose Cuevas would then work space and time for a shot after 27, but the shot was easily saved having been straight at the ‘keeper.
Odisnel Cooper would then be forced into a trademark diving save after a Dayton striker ghosted in and arrowed a shot that seemed to be destined for the top corner, however, Cooper parried away spectacularly and kept the score at 2-1 after 31.
Jose Cuevas would then find defender Shawn Ferguson six minutes from half time off a corner, but it was the Dayton ‘keeper’s turn to make a great save as he tipped the ball over the bar from close range.
So at the end of the first half, it was the Battery going in looking the better side, but knowing they probably needed another goal to find some cushion in the game.
Dayton had the best chance coming out of the break nine minutes after the restart when an attack down the left flank led to a shot on goal, but the defense did well to shut down the striker, meaning he could only get off a speculative chip over Cooper in goal, and he didn’t get the angle right as the ball went safely behind for a goal kick
The Battery would then make two subs in the space of three minutes. First, Mamadou Diouf would replace Dane Kelly on 57 minutes after he took an apparent knock chasing after a loose ball. Then Zach Prince would come in for Maikel Chang on the hour mark.
Diouf would try his best to make the most of his chances just a few minutes after his introduction, but his shot after a good looking attacking play would do next to nothing to phase the ‘keeper as it was easily saved.
With just under 20 minutes left in the match Emanuel Adjetey would replace goalscorer Mena, going and filling the right back spot while Quinton Griffith was given license to push forward as a right winger.
On 78, Jose Cuevas would whip a ball in from a free kick which looked like it took a touch off Shawn Ferguson and eventually went out for a goal kick. It did, however, look like Diouf had enough room to get to the ball and put a shot at least on target had the ball fallen to him, but Ferguson’s previous touch prevented the young striker from doing so.
Cuevas would then be subbed off for the energetic Dante Marini on 83, but not before playing a beautiful ball across field to Adjetey, but Adjetey’s shot was closed down, then fell to Zach Prince, whose shot was eventually cleared.
And then, just five minutes from time, the Battery were left to rue missed opportunities when a Dayton attack slowly but surely found its way into the box, and David Clemens was there to finish off the attack with a cool finish past Odisnel Cooper.
The Battery would then bring on Heviel Cordoves for the last few minutes, and he would get a chance to steal the game right at the death. Dante Marini would wheel his way to the byline before playing a great before playing a tasty ball to Cordoves, who shot from close range, but the Dayton ‘keeper was on hand quickly to produce a fine save.
So, despite the solid valiant effort late on, the Battery were left to wonder how that last Dayton attack materialized, and they will look to finish better when they take on the Orange County Blues this coming Wednesday, August 13th at home. This will also be the Battery’s 2nd game in the space of five days, and also the middle game in a 3-game, 7-day long home stand. The game starts at 7:30.
TOP IMAGE: John Wilson, captain for the evening, grapples with a Dayton player early on. Vin Duffy/Charleston Battery photo