Higashi's Goal Not Enough, Akinyode Wins It Late for Nashville.
The Charleston Battery dropped points Saturday night against Nashville SC in a 2-1 defeat at First Tennesee Park. A last-second goal from Bolu Akinyode gave the hosts three points in a gut-wrenching loss for the Battery.
Joe Kuzminsky came up with two first-half saves to keep Nashville from jumping out to a 1-0 lead. Kuzminsky first denied Ropapa Mensah in the 28th minute after Lebo Moloto put the forward through on goal. Kuzminsky rose to the challenge of the one-on-one making a fine save but not clearing the danger. The ensuing Nashville attack produced a Cameron Lancaster shot that Kuzminsky dealt with nicely.
Nashville controlled much of the attacking play in the first half, but it was Kotaro Higashi who scored his first goal of the season to give Charleston a 1-0 lead going into the break. Romario Piggott found the shifty midfielder at the top of the box and, with a great touch, Higashi was able to slip past Ken Tribbett and Jimmy Ockford. Matt Pickens was out to make a play on the ball but Higashi did well to keep his composure and lift his shot over Pickens' left shoulder.
Mensah made up for his missed opportunity earlier in the match with a headed goal in the 56th minute. Darnell King and Moloto linked up well down the right side of the field and King dialed up a perfect cross into the box. Mensah rose for the header, with Kyle Nelson challenging to clear the danger, but it was Mensah who directed the cross towards goal beating Kuzminsky at the near post.
Nashville found a late winner in the 90th minute, or so they thought. On a Nashville attack, Moloto was knocked down in the Charleston box by Nelson. While recovering from the collision Kharlton Belmar forced Taylor Mueller into a turnover and Molot found himself in the right place at the right time. The midfielder sidestepped around Kuzminsky sending a shot into the back of the net. After a lengthy celebration, Moloto was ruled offside and the match remained tied 1-1.
Three minutes later, in the final seconds of stoppage time, Akinyode did find a winner. At the top of the box, Akinyode controlled a headed pass from Ken Tribbett and fired a shot towards goal. The ball took a slight deflection on its way towards goal, and Kuzminsky was caught frozen only able to watch it fly into the back of the net.
The Battery travel to Charlotte next Friday to take on the Independence in a Southern Derby Cup showdown. The match can be streamed live on ESPN+.
NASHVILLE: Pickens, Kings (Winn 82'), Davis, Ockford (Washington 71'), Tribbett, Bourgeois, LaGrassa (YC 65'), Akinyode (goal 90'+3), Moloto, Lancaster (Belmar 71'), Mensah (goal 56')
Substitutes: Sparrow, Vitiello, Kimura, Washington, Belmar, Hume, Winn
CHARLESTON: Kuzminsky, Nelson, van Schaik (Paterson 63'), Mueller (YC 60'), Archer, Anunga, Piggott, Kelly, Higashi (goal 43', Rittmeyer 82'), Lewis (Marini 75'), Svantesson
Substitutes: Breno, Bolt, Paterson, Marini, Rittmeyer, Bosua, Daley
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