The Battery came off second best against Eastern Conference leaders Louisville City in a washed-out affair on Friday night. The conditions definitely had a part to play in the result, as the ball played quick on an extremely wet surface, but Louisville can indeed say that they were the better team.
A long ball forward on four minutes was handled by a Louisville defender in the fourth minute, but the referee played advantage and Romario Williams dummied off to Ricky Garbanzo, whose dipping effort went just over the bar, but it gave Gregory Ranjitsingh his first slight scare of the evening.
Quinton Griffith‘s mishit clearance led to a chance for Louisville shortly afterward, but the effort went wide and didn’t trouble Odisnel Cooper in goal.
But Louisville would indeed find the breakthrough after 20 minutes, full back Kyle Smith did well to get into a crossing position and found George Davis IV with a low drive. Davis hit the shot first time, leaving Cooper in goal with no chance and gave the visitors an early lead.
For the most part, the goal was deserved, Louisville were looking more attacking and passing well, while the Battery’s usual crisp passing was letting them down, balls being misplayed, or going out wide because of the conditions. The Battery had a few half chances from set pieces played into the box, but couldn’t fashion any real threat, and Louisville capitalized.
But 8 minutes after the opener, the Battery could have equalized. A one-two pass in midfield eventually found its way to Romario Williams, the Battery’s leading scorer, but his effort would be blocked. Attaulah Guerra would have a go on the rebound, but his effort would go wide of goal.
Ilja Illic found his way through the Battery backline on the half hour mark and left him 1-on-1 with Cooper, but the ‘keeper stayed big when it looked as if he was certain to be beaten, and the score stayed 1-0.
A deflected shot eight minutes later went out for a Louisville Corner, which wasn’t cleared properly. It bounced around and found a few heads before eventually falling to Smith for LCFC, whose semi-acrobatic shot looped over Cooper to double the lead.
Perhaps the Battery were unlucky to concede the second goal, or at least in that manner, but they found themselves a pair of goals down headed into half time, and some calm was needed.
But on 51, things would go from bad to worse for the Battery. Romario Williams would slide in on a defender from behind, and the referee would issue a straight red card. While the conditions meant that Williams would lose his footing while trying to go for the ball, the challenge was still ill-timed, and ill-advised. The Battery would face the remaining minutes with 10 men.
On the hour mark, Maikel Chang, who had a quiet night by his standards, and Ricky Garbanzo, who wasn’t the type of forward that the Battery were looking for in the given situation, would be replaced by Dante Marini and Heviel Cordoves, Marini adding pace and width, and Cordoves adding the target man that the Battery would need.
On 73, Cooper had to smuggle a through ball before it could be latched onto by a Louisville Forward, as the Battery’s woes continued.
And George Davis will have wondered how he didn’t double his tally on 75, after he latched onto a superb long ball and rounded Cooper, but the ‘keeper remained composed, shutting down the angle for the easy finish, and forcing Davis to go for power, which meant the shot went high.
The Battery nearly got a consolation with ten minutes left, which would have made the remaining minutes nervous for the leaders, after Quinton Griffith’s run down the left caused problems. His cross found no one, but popped all the way over to the man on the opposite flank, Obrien Woodbine, whose cross had to force the goalkeeper into a save as he sprawled backward. The rebound fell to the diving head of Justin Portillo, but he couldn’t put the shot on target.
And so, the Battery fell 2-0 to the league leaders. The weather no doubt played a part, but Louisville can go home happy, having put a good shift in and coming away with the three points.
The Battery’s next game comes thick and fast, as they travel to Florida to take on the Jacksonville Armada of the NASL in the US Open Cup 3rd round.