Bethlehem Steel FC dropped all three points in an underwhelming performance that saw the Charleston Battery take a first half lead and never look back.
The first half was a wide open affair, with both teams attacking end to end. Bethlehem was out on the front foot early and managed to win the game’s first corner. Charleston hit on the counter however, and the duo of Brian Chang and Ataullah Guerra connected well in the 18, with Chang slotting home past Perrella to give the Battery the lead. Charleston worked the counter well for the first half an hour, culminating in one of the many turning points in the match when Romario Williams was through on goal and probably would have put the home side up 2-0 if not for a fantastic sliding tackle by Nick Bibbs that kept the match at one.
Steel FC would find an equalizer after a good over the top ball by Maurice Edu (who played a full 90 minutes) found Cory Burke, who would’ve had a good look at goal if not for Shawn Ferguson grabbing his shirt and pulling him to ground. Derrick Jones stepped up and took the penalty. While his shot was muffled by Alex Tambakis, it was too powerful and deflected into the top of the net. Jones bagged his fifth of the season, which puts him level with Ryan Richter for Bethlehem’s highest goal scorer.
Guerra wasn’t too interested in letting the game stay level however, and a good ball in from Ricky Garbanzo found Guerra’s outstretched foot. The redirection beat Perrella to the far side to make the game 2-1 in the 39th minute. On the whole the first half was a choppy affair, as head referee Aleksandar Zhelyazkov went to his book five times carding a slew of players for fouls.
Resuming play in the second half, it looked like Bethlehem might have been in store for a second goal. Justin McMaster and Eric Ayuk were doing their best to find Cory Burke and succeed a few times, but once again the finishing for Steel FC as a whole was a disappointment early in the second. Nick Bibbs had to play the hero again, as a wide open net for Charleston in the 75th minute would’ve seen the Battery go up 3-1 - if not for a combination of good awareness (and a very centered shot on goal) for Nick Bibbs to clear off the line.
Josh Heard, who came in for Eric Ayuk on the wing, was given a great over the top ball late on in the half that he might’ve got past Tambakis, but the Charleston defense wasn’t keen on figuring out how the shot would’ve gone and dispossessed him before he got the ball off his feet. Charleston shut down shop and took all three points by a final of 2-1.
Some other quick notes from the game:
- Justin McMaster got his second start and longest shift this year, the forward logged 65 minutes and had the most shots last night with four attempts
- Like I mentioned above, Maurice Edu played 90 minutes last night, looking sluggish toward the final 15 or so. Not that it’s unexpected for him to not have full match fitness, but I figured I would just point it out. No word on where he winds up next week just yet.
Speaking of next week, Bethlehem returns home for their final two matches of the season, Pittsburgh is first next Sunday at 3:00 PM.