OKLAHOMA CITY - The Charleston Battery finally broke through in a scoreless tie in the 79th minute, then added another in the 90th minute to defeat the expansion Oklahoma City Energy on Sunday night in front of 4,722 fans.
Charleston (9-8-8) scored after a corner kick by Battery attacking midfielder Jose Cuevas that dropped to teammate Amadou Sanyang at Samir Badr's far post. Substitute forward Heviel Cordoves scored late to put the game away.
The resurgent Battery won their third straight, and their undefeated streak reached a season-high eight games, the longest active streak in USL Pro. With three more points in its tally, the Battery took possession of the fifth seed in the playoff race with three matches remaining in its regular season.
The hosts threatened on their first possession, finding space on the left side of the Battery defense and sending a sizzling low cross that transited the face of Odinsel Cooper's goal without finding any takers. Charleston immediately countered, with midfielder Jarad van Schaik taking space across the stripe before feeding attacking-central-mid Jose "Chiva" Cuevas above the right corner of the box. Cuevas pegged his resulting shot off the crossbar, and would force OKC goalkeeper Badr into a spectacular diving save later in the half when he lashed a wickedly bending ball on frame from 35 yards away.
Both keepers would each come up with a first-half save, but the first half went to the interval rather uneventfully. OKC Head Coach Jimmy Nielsen brought his squad back for the second half with a more urgent quest for the game's first goal, but as the hot night wore on, the Energy seemed to subside. After a chippy 10 minutes that began around the hour mark - and a dangerous corner kick by the Energy in the 75th, Charleston began to take control.
The go-ahead goal came just a minute after Cordoves replaced starting forward Dane Kelly, who was carrying a yellow card. But it was Sanyang - who was along playing under an earlier caution - who broke loose from his marker at the far post.
Sanyang's goal was his high point of the night, but his low would come just seconds after Cordoves' insurance score. As the officials attempted to restart the match, Referee Charles Farr determined that Cordoves was interfering with the kickoff and gave him a second yellow for delaying the game. Charleston would play the four minutes of stoppage time down a man.
The Battery outshot the home team 10-5.
Charleston next visits expansion Sacramento Republic FC on Wednesday night. The Republic are currently in third place, one point behind Richmond and with a game in hand.
The Battery trail fourth-place LA Galaxy II - whom they beat on June 14 - by nine points, with three games remaining for each team. If the playoffs began today, the Battery would visit Los Dos in the first round. Charleston would host that game only if it wins all its remaining matches while the Galaxy loses all its games.