Zeiko Lewis on the spot to earn parity for Charleston Battery
Zeiko Lewis, the Charleston Battery forward, grabbed a superb late equaliser to earn his team a 1-1 draw away to New York Red Bulls II in their USL Championship season opener at the weekend.
Stavros Zarokostas’s cross from the left side was deflected into the path of Lewis, who then turned on his marker in the box and fired past Red Bulls goalkeeper Luca Lewis without breaking stride to earn the visitors a share of the spoils against his former club at MSU Soccer Park on Friday night.
The Bermuda forward was a constant threat in the attacking third throughout and was unlucky not to have come away with more goals, having fired a shot over with only the goalkeeper to beat and had another saved.
The Battery dominated the early exchanges, with Lewis forcing his namesake to make the first save of the night.
However, the match was turned on its head in the tenth minute after the hosts capitalised on a defensive error to take the lead against the run of play.
Defender Jarad van Schaik’s pass from the left side of his own box went straight to Red Bulls winger Jake LaCaba, who lashed the ball past Battery goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky at the near post.
Despite the setback, the visitors maintained control and piled on the pressure in search of the breakthrough.
The Battery had a confident appeal for a penalty waved off by the referee after Zarokostas went down from a challenge in the box, while Lewis was unable to keep his shot on target after Al Patterson’s pass put him in the clear with only the goalkeeper to contend with.
Logan Gdula also dragged an effort wide after Robbie Crawford found him in the box just before the interval as the visitors finished the opening stanza strongly.
The Battery picked up immediately where they had left off when play resumed, with debutant Ben Di Rosa firing Lewis’s pass over the bar.
LaCaba nearly doubled the home side’s advantage again against the run of play while at the other end Lewis found himself in the thick of the action again, this time picking out Angelo Kelly, whose effort was saved by the Red Bulls goalkeeper’s legs.
The Battery finally made their dominance count with Lewis producing a brilliant piece of individual skill to draw the teams level in the 72nd minute before being replaced four minutes later.
Meanwhile, Nahki Wells’s Bristol City suffered a 3-1 home defeat against Brentford in their final Sky Bet Championship match of the season at Ashton Gate on Saturday.
The Bermuda striker had two opportunities just before the break, but had one shot blocked and another saved by Raya Martin, the Brentford goalkeeper.
The visitors opened the scoring in the 57th minute through Ivan Toney before further tallies from Bryan Mbeumo (78) and Sergi Canós (83) killed the game off.
The hosts pulled one back when Louis Britton, making his first-team debut, came off the substitutes’ bench and grabbed an 87th-minute consolation.
Wells was replaced shortly after the hour mark and finished the season with 11 goals. Bristol City ended nineteenth after a late-season swoon that saw them winless in their last ten, taking three points out of a possible 30.
In the Vanarama National League, Justin Donawa’s Solihull Moors did not play against relegation-threatened King’s Lynn Town because of a waterlogged pitch.
Meanwhile, Woking, for whom Jonté Smith has not appeared since April 20 — an unspecified absence covering five matches — crashed to a 4-1 defeat at home to Chesterfield to sit only three points clear of King’s Lynn having played a game more in the battle to avoid the last relegation place.
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