MELBOURNE, FLA. — The Battery took repeated advantage of its young hosts and played up a man from the 50th minute, yet couldn’t close the deal in a scoreless draw at Orlando City B on Friday night.
Charleston outshot the new team from Melbourne, 21-3, including a 15-1 advantage in the second half. But OCB goalkeeper Mark Ridgers make six saves in sloppy conditions to hold his team level.
With the draw, the Battery (1-0-1, 4 points) kept pace — temporarily, at least — with the top of the USL Eastern Conference. OCB (0-1-1, 1 point) earned its first USL point.
For the second week in a row, the Battery faced a first-half lightning delay, this one coming just before the national anthem.
The team took the fight to OCB from the moment play began, outshooting the Lions, 6-2, in the first half.
Ricky Garbanzo led all players with five shots, and the two he put on goal were heartbreaking.
In the 9th minute, Garbanzo’s crisp, quick blast forced a save that Maikel Chang couldn’t put back on frame. Then in the 54th, a brilliant build-up between fullback Obi Woodbine and Chang resulted in a spin-and-shoot by Charleston’s second-year forward, who fired low and hard between the center backs — yet couldn’t sneak it past Ridger’s diving right hand.
Despite the wet conditions, the Lions attempted to play possession soccer for the first 20 minutes, but eventually rocked back into a defensive crouch before halftime.
Less than five minutes after play resumed, the game really changed.
In the 50th minute, midfielder Tony Rocha picked up his second yellow of the night when he appeared to run into Zach Prince out of bounds, sending the Battery midfielder sprawling through the USL field board. Down a man, Coach Anthony Pulis put his young Lions into a bunkered position for the rest of the match.
Charleston chipped away at it, bringing both fullbacks — and eventually, everyone but goalkeeper Alex Tambakis — well up beyond the mid-stripe.
Tambakis finished the night with two saves and his second clean sheet of the 2016 USL season. After a frightening moment on a clearance that was nearly — or partially — blocked in the third minute, his night was largely uneventful. He stopped both balls that came his way in the first 45, and was mostly a spectator in the second — except for taking a hit while snatching out a near-post cross.
The Battery play next week at home against Wilmington Hammerheads, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets start at $10 and can be purchased