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Akinola and Hamilton score as TFC II stun the Battery

The Young Reds won 2-1 away to Charleston, adding another big upset to the collection

USL Photo - TFC II’s Kyle Bjornethun & Dante Campbell help to key the Charleston Battery attack at bay in a 2-1 road win
Bjornethun and Campbell help to key the Battery attack at bay in Charleston on Saturday night
Pattie Anderson/Charleston Battery

Toronto FC II collected another impressive result on Saturday night with a 2-1 win over the Charleston Battery at MUSC Health Stadium in South Carolina.

Patrick Okonkwo opened the scoring in the 52nd minute for the home side, but Ayo Akinola responded for the visitors three minutes later, tapping in an inviting ball from Matt Srbely, and Jordan Hamilton nodded in the winner in the 65th minute from a Terique Mohammed cross.

On the heels of the 1-0 midweek loss to Ottawa Fury FC, Michael Rabasca fielded a relatively unchanged XI in Saturday’s match against Charleston.

Caleb Patterson-Sewell captained the side from between the sticks, while the back-line of Tim Kubel, Kyle Bjornethun, Robert Boskovic, and Terique Mohammed was unchanged. In midfield, Liam Fraser and Dante Campbell patrolled the middle of the pitch, as they had against Ottawa, and further afield Tsubasa Endoh patrolled the left-side of the forward-facing three.

Matt Srbely stepped back into his central role in place of Jon Bakero, while Malik Johnson took the spot of Ryan Telfer, albeit swapping flanks with Endoh to play on the right. Akinola started as the sole striker once more.

The home side started brightly, testing Patterson-Sewell early and often. The goalkeeper rose to the challenge, making his biggest and best save of the match in the 3rd minute when Victor Mansaray smashed a right-footer towards goal.

The Battery would remain on the front foot for much of the opening half hour, but failed to craft any better chances. TFC II would survive those early passages and play their way into the match as half-time approached.

Endoh had a crack from range in the 41st minute and Akinola would get on the end of a lovely through-ball from Johnson, finishing past Joe Kuzminsky in the Battery goal, only for the offside flag to negate the strike.

Okonkwo would hit bar come the 43rd minute, guiding a header on frame from a right-sided O’Brian Woodbine cross, and then nodded another over the bar from close range in stoppage-time, the raising of the flag sparing additional blushes.

Toronto would start the second half brightly with Endoh sending another attempt from distance over the bar before Johnson twice tested the Charleston keeper. But it was the Battery who took the lead in the 52nd minute when Okonkwo was slipped in by Ataulla Guerra to beat Patterson-Sewell with a low right-footer to the bottom left-corner of goal.

TFC II would redouble their efforts and respond come the 55th minute. Johnson began the play, slipping a ball down the outside right-channel for Srbely to latch onto and he in turn zipped a ball through the goalmouth for a wide open Akinola to tap in simply.

Level at ones, the intensity of the match ramped up with Boskovic collecting a yellow card in the 58th minute for a hard foul on Okonkwo that drew a crowd. Endoh would nearly find the go ahead in the 62nd minute when Fraser clipped a ball into the box. The Japanese international beat the keeper to it with a headed touch that flew just over the crossbar.

Rabasca would go to his bench in the 63rd minute with a pair of substitutions, bringing on Jordan Hamilton and Noble Okello for Akinola and Kubel, respectively.

Two minutes later, Hamilton would find what proved to be the game-winner, beating his mark to the near-post to get on the end of a cross from Mohammed after Endoh found the newly-signed full-back in space on the left.

Endoh nearly caught Kuzminsky from a free-kick in the 69th minute, whipping a troublesome ball towards the open near-post, only for the scrambling keeper to get his hands to the sneaky attempt.

Both teams would make further subs – Aidan Daniels replacing Johnson, who was a handful all night, for TFC II – but aside from a Mohammed picking up a yellow for a heavy challenge on Gordon Wild, the remainder of the match played out without major incident.

The win, Toronto’s four of the season, snapped a three-game losing skid and put an end to a run of six-winless outings. Since picking up their first win at the end of July, TFC II has a record of four wins, eight losses, and a draw, averaging a point-per-match.

An archive of the match is available on YouTube.

Toronto return to action on Friday, their final home match of the 2018 USL season, when they host Louisville City FC at Lamport Stadium – kickoff is set for 8 p.m. One last chance to catch the Young Reds in live action before they close out the campaign with away matches against Nashville SC and Penn FC.