On Saturday night at Highmark Stadium, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Charleston Battery, two teams looking for their elusive first win in USL PRO League play, battled to a 0-0 draw.

The Riverhounds dominated possession, but ultimately were not able to generate a goal.

“We did a decent job, our midfield was dominant, but it’s a shame we couldn’t turn that dominance into goals,” said Joseph Ngwenya, Riverhounds midfielder.

The best chance of the match for the Riverhounds came in the 48th minute. After receiving a nice ball from Rob Vincent at the top of the 18 yard box, midfielder Kevin Kerr sent a stinging ball toward the right side of Battery goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper, who made a nice lunging save.

As the rest of the second half unfolded, strong early winds that were prevalent in the first half, died down a bit, and it became clear the Riverhounds were controlling the ball in large chunks, and the Battery were taking their chances on the counter attack.

In the 55th minute, the Battery set up a trio of consecutive corners after a nice sequence on the left side that was deflected by the Riverhounds. Despite probing with multiple chances in a row from corners, the Battery could not convert, as Riverhounds goalkeeper Michael Lisch held strong, despite being knocked around in the box a few times.

In the 70th minute, Vincent had a nice chance, with a shot from outside the box that was on target, but Cooper was able to get to it. Forward Jason Johnson followed that up a minute later with a left footed shot that sailed low and left of the post.

In the late stages, despite continued pressure, good finishing opportunities were elusive for the home team.

Riverhounds midfielder Matt Dallman played a nice ball into the box in the 86th minute from the right side after receiving a nice pass back from Ngwenya. However, as the ball sailed toward the box, Cooper came out and made a strong play on the ball, colliding with forward Mike Seth. Seth was shaken up and had to be helped off the field, but would come back into play.

In stoppage time, the Battery’s Adam Mena had a potential breakaway chance, but Lisch came out make a nice open field play on the ball.

As the final seconds ticked down, Ngwenya made a nice run toward the end line to the right of the goal. He went down, was knocked over, but only after the ball was deflected out for a corner. If Ngwenya was able to keep the ball in play, he could have potentially drawn a penalty.

The Riverhounds failed to convert on the corner and the game ended in a draw.

In the first half, playing into a strong wind, Riverhounds played well enough to set up three corner kicks and a few set pieces, although they didn’t have any clear cut chances, and only one shot on goal.

“The wind played a factor there in the first half. Not being able to connect on crosses. That seemed to be the theme all night,” said Justin Evans, Riverhounds Head Coach.

“We were putting the ball in dangerous areas, but not able to convert.”

Ngwenya was very active on the ball, along with Joseph Obodai, as both did a nice job providing the Riverhounds with the advantage despite lots of pressure from the Battery midfield throughout much of the match.

“They were sitting in a 4-5-1, and we were able to get our midfield to keep the ball, and that’s what we wanted,” said Evans.

The Battery counter attack created a few chances too.

Obadai was given a yellow card in the 20th minute after Battery forward Omar Salgado was making a nice run in space. The 5’8″ Obodai, caught up to 6’4″ Salgado, taking the bigger man down about 35 yards out.

Charleston’s Quinton Griffith’s free kick sailed over the bar.

Riverhounds goalkeeper, Michael Lisch faced three shots in the first half, making one save on Salgado early on from about 30 yards.

Facing a number of players out of the lineup this week, Evans kept the starting line up in the game for the entire 90 plus minutes.

“That was difficult, we had to do what we had to do. I thought the guys that went in and played, played very well. We only dressed 17, so we were a little short on the bench. I thought we were doing well enough, that I didn’t have to bring in anyone,” said Evans.

Riverhounds were without their leading scorers, Jose Angulo wasn’t here due to a death in the family, Collins John was serving the second of his three game suspension, and Jhonny Arteaga, who scored last week, was out with an injury. Brian Ownby had been called up mid-week by the Houston Dynamo.

Early in a season where the Riverhounds have not been able to come up with a complete performance, Evans felt it was the most complete game they’ve played this season.

“We’ve had bad starts. We’ve had to change things up in previous games, coming on strong late. But today was our best overall effort for 90 minutes,” said Evans.

The Riverhounds outshot the Battery 7 to 5, and in a game that was played heavily in the midfield, with lots of physical challenges, they were able to draw 13 fouls.

Lisch made a total of four saves, and Cooper came up with two to keep the game scoreless.

“Hopefully the next game, we can turn our dominance into chances and goals,” said Ngwenya.

“That’s what it’s all about at this level.”

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