Battery edge Charlotte in hard-fought win

Despite a sleepy first half in which neither team created much, the season’s last Southern Derby game ended up being an entertaining one, as the Charleston Battery sneaked past the Charlotte Independence on Saturday night.

Maikel Chang‘s tap in after Attaulah Guerra laid it on a plate midway through the second half turned out to be what settled the scores, but Charlotte could also feel somewhat aggrieved that a shot which cannoned off the crossbar, and on further inspection, looked to have crossed the line, wasn’t given as a goal by the referee later on in the second 45, which just might have changed the game. Although the Battery did have a few more chances afterward in the closing stages, and might feel that they could’ve won by more.

Members of Jack’s Militia, the Charlotte fan club, were down for the match, looking to make the most of what was to be the final Southern Derby fixture of the year. There were said to be about 15 to 20 making the short trip south for the match, most making a weekend of the occasion.

For the Battery, it was Guerra up front, behind the withdrawn forward of Ricky Garbanzo to start the match, while Dante Marini started in place of Zach Prince, and Alex Tambakis was in goal for the Black and Yellow. Leading scorer Romario Williams, Chris Tsonis and Heviel Cordoves all started on the bench,  but all three would see minutes as the Battery looked for a foothold in the late season playoff push.

The Battery earned a corner taken by Justin Portillo and put straight in on the Charlotte Goalkeeper John Berner, who did well to punch away before the move broke down as Dante Marini committed a foul.

A mistake by Marini in midfield led to Charlotte’s first attempt of the evening, as on 11 minutes, Alex Tambakis was forced into one of a few good saves to stop a long range effort.

A Battery corner a couple minutes later was cleared, but the ball sat up for the onrushing Justin Portillo to have a pop, though the effort went high and wide.

Then, on 34′ was probably the Battery’s best chance of the first half, when a cleared corner came straight back out to Portillo, who put a ball into a place where no ‘keeper could dare come for it, and no defender could get to, but the onrushing Attaulah Guerra misjudged it an  was coming down from the attempted header before the ball had come to him. It was truly unlucky for the home side, as you felt if he’dve gotten anything on the ball, it would’ve opened the scoring. Charlotte, meanwhile, could breathe a sigh of relief.

The game really hadn’t come to life by time the half time whistle blew, and you got the sense that it really needed a goal to do so.

At half time, the 1996 USISL Championship winning team were honored. This being the 20th anniversary of their triumph, which was the first of four championships that the Battery have won, with the tribute being capped off with a video from then-player, now manager, Mike Anhaeuser which was played on the Jumbotron. It was a testament to how much history the club has, as well as how far it’s come in the years since its first title.

As things wrapped up in the half time festivities, the two teams were back out on the pitch and ready to go, and it was Charlotte who would have the first chance of the second half.

Brian Brown, who has established himself as more than just a little threat this year, latched onto a perfectly weighted through ball in the 47th minute, but with only Tambakis to beat, shanked the effort wide. It was a chance you would’ve put your house on him to score, and this time it was the home side breathing a sigh of relief.

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But they would right the ship quickly, and just three minutes later, would fashion a chance of their own. Attaulah Guerra would turn his man on the edge of the box, before running at the Charlotte backline. Beating them for pace, he could’ve taken a shot himself, but picked his head up and saw a open man in the middle of the box, which was Maikel Chang, who slotted the ball home to open the scoring.

As expected, the game began to open up a little more, and the visitors suddenly came to life, with Brian Brown getting some space just two minutes after the goal and expertly finding Enzo Martinez in the box, but the shot cannoned off the crossbar.

And then, two minutes after that, Brown went through again, but this time, Alex Tambakis would come and shut the angle of a shot down, and while Brown was able to get a dangerous looking cross away, it was cleared by the Battery defense.

Just past the hour mark, Brown again was given time to turn and shoot, but the effort from distance went wide.

And then came the moment of controversy in the 72nd, when Yann Ekra, a second half sub who was beginning to impact the game more and more as time went on, had a long range effort rattle the underside of the bar and bounce down and out. Given the replay on the jumbotron, everyone could clearly see the ball had crossed the line before bouncing harmlessly into the arms of Tambakis, but the referee remained oblivious, and surely missed one there.

With 12 to go, Quinton Griffith used a bit of trickery to get past his man and to the byline, but the defender did well to get back at him and deflect the cross out for a corner. The corner from the right somehow found its way to Naveal Hackshaw, but the ball seemed to take a bobble as his shot went over the bar.

On 82′ Charlotte earned a corner that was looking dangerous, but the ball was headed wide.

And two minutes later, a Charlotte cross was poorly cleared by the Battery onto Yann Ekra’s boot, but his shot went over the bar.

On 87′ Yann Ekra’s shot on the turn was saved by Alex Tambakis, and the ensuing corner led to a counter, spearheaded by Romario Williams. Williams would beat his defender for pace before having a shot, but his effort would go wide.

The last chance  game fell to Brian Brown, who brought down a clearance and shot on the volley, but the effort went narrowly wide.

The final whistle blew shortly after, giving the Battery an all important late season three points in the hunt for a playoff spot, as well as retaining the Southern Derby Cup.

The Battery next travel to Richmond to take on the Richmond Kickers on Wednesday, August 31st. The match kicks off at 7:00 PM.

TOP IMAGE: SHAWN FERGUSON WINS THE BALL IN AN EARLY CHALLENGE AS THE BATTERY WON AGAINST CHARLOTTE. ALL PHOTOS CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woodbine screamer earns Battery a point in Wilmington

In a very stop-start match, (for more reasons than one) the Battery earned a point from their last match against Southern rivals Wilmington. A deflected free kick gave  Hammerheads the lead, but a wondergoal on the half-volley from 30 yards by Obi Woodbine levelled things going into the break. Neither side could find a winner in the second half, before lightning forced both teams off the pitch in the 89th minute.

After playing just 21 minutes in Richmond in midweek before severe rain brought an end to proceedings, (and then postponed until August 31st) the weather bug struck again tonight, but this time only holding off kick off by an additional thirty minutes, though the Black and Yellow must’ve been thinking what they did to deserve such horrible luck.

The Battery were given an extra boost though, by a group of supporter’s club members making their annual trip north to watch the match, which is a sentiment shared by Wilmington supporters also, who make a trip to MUSC Health Stadium annually as well.

Romario Williams forced the ‘keeper into an early save after he broke through on the right, but the effort was palmed away at the near post and cleared before anyone could pick up the rebound.

In the 11th minute, it was Matthew Barnes-Homer that earned a corner for Wilmington, but the ball was cleared and the set piece didn’t trouble the defense.

The match then livened up a little, but not in the way you’d like to see. There were a few off the ball altercations following fouls given away in midfield, and it looked as though the referee was struggling to contain everyone following a foul by Shawn Ferguson on 31. The players lining up for the free kick were still at it minutes after the whistle was blown, and eventually Forrest Lasso fell to the turf after some handbags in the box. The situation was handled somewhat efficiently by the ref, who then blew the whistle for the original free kick to be taken.

Perhaps all the afters put the wall off guard, because the effort took a deflection and bounced past Alex Tambakis, giving the home side the lead with just about 10 minutes to go, all things considered, in the first half.

But the Battery wouldn’t let the heads drop though, earning a corner shortly after, but it was cleared without troubling the goalkeeper.

And then on 42′, Williams would latch onto a ball down the line, with Ashani Fairclough as his marker, who blocked away for another corner, which was wasted.

Wilmington had a free kick in stoppage time in the first half, which was wasted after an attacker was called offside, giving the Battery possession back, and they quickly earned another corner out of it. The initial ball was cleared, but fell to Obi Woodbine, who took a touch over his defender, waited for the ball to bounce on the half volley, and struck it into the top corner from a full 30 yards. The left back, who’s known for his long distance shooting, isn’t afraid to have a go from that range, but it’s not known if he has, or ever will, hit a ball that cleanly.

And it was easily a goal of the season candidate that got the Battery back on level terms, and got the wind back in their sails as that was just about the last kick of the half. The Battery earning some hard yards, but only creating chances after they conceded.

But Wilmington’s Justin Moose was the one that could’ve had the first real chance of the second half, when a cross bounced to him on the turf after 56′, but his effort was blocked out well and cleared before he could shoot.

Peabo Doue then ran clear after a good interchange, running through from the left back position, but shooting narrowly wide for the hosts.

In the 65th, Maikel Chang must’ve thought he’d scored after latching on to a cross from the right via a pullback, which beat the Wilmington ‘keeper, but Ashani Fairclough was on the line as the last line of defense to clear.

Later, on 72’, it was Chang again involved, this time playing the role of set up man, playing in substitute Dante Marini with a free kick that left him free on the left of the box, but his effort was off the post from a weird angle.

It was then the Battery’s turn to press the panic button two minutes later, when Forrest Lasso cleared a header toward the back post off the line, which would’ve given the home side the lead.

On 79′, a Justin Portillo corner from the left fell to Marini, who created space for himself, and had a lash, but put way too much power in the effort as it sailed over the bar.

With five minutes left, another Portillo corner was played in deep toward the back post, and headed on by Lasso toward the middle, which it looked like Maikel Chang dipped for, and it seemed destined for the net, before the goalkeeper somehow made a miraculous save, and the ball was bundled clear.

That was to be the last action of the match,  as in the 89th minute, lightning that had threatened previously in the evening struck again, and the referee deemed it unsafe to continue, handing each team a point.

So, an absolute wondergoal paid dividends for the Battery, and by and large, they can be happy with a point gained at a tough place to play for many reasons in Wilmington. They next travel to Charlotte on August 27th, taking on the Charlotte Independence.

TOP IMAGE: OBI WOODBNE IN BATTLE DURING THE BATTERY’S FREINDLY WITH RANGERS.

 

 

Costly mistakes hurt Battery in loss to Montreal

It was a night to forget as  Charleston Battery fell to FC Motreal, despite perhaps looking the better side for large stretches of the match. Despite this, there were mistakes in various areas for the home side, and Montreal were definitely the more clinical, and hit the Black and Yellow where it hurt.

The Battery looked to be the one fastest out of the gates when Attaulah Guerra played Romario Williams through just outside the box after a decent run through the midfield, but the striker couldn’t hold his run and was given offside.

Guerra then was played in himself after some decent work by Zach Prince on the wing, but his shot was high over the bar from range.

After 17 minutes, another piece of good work by Quinton Griffith led to a corner after his cross was cleared, but it was cut out by Max Crepeaux in goal for Montreal, who started the counter, which the visitors were dangerous from the whole evening, and it led to a chance for them, but t went wide of Odisnel Cooper‘s goal and out.

On 20’, a Zach Prince cross was cleared for a Battery corner, which was given to specialist Obi Woodbine, and put into a dangerous area. Despite this, the referee’s whistle blew for a foul throw, as his foot wasn’t touching the ground when the throw was taken, and possession went to the away side.

Montreal had a chance from a corner four minutes later, but the ball was cleared, though only for Montreal to reset, which finally fizzled out and was cleared.

There was then a hydration break a few minutes later after a player was down. The hydration break is mandatory when the temperature on the field is at 86.9 degrees or higher, and usually occurs around the 35th minute, but the stoppage in play gave the players for both sides an opportunity to take on some fluids.

A defensive error led to what was perhaps the best chance of the opening half for the home side. A misplaced header led to a chance for Romario Williams, but his shot at the near post was sad by Max Crepeaux, who pushed the ball away from danger as well and the ball was eventually cleared.

And the ‘keeper’s heroics paid dividends as on 39’, Anthony Jackson-Hamel was on the end of some great buildup play by the visitors, as he received a cheeky little backheel inside the box which left Odisnel Cooper stranded, and Montreal went up 1-0.

And that’s how the sides went in at the break. The Battery were wasteful in the second half, and it was something that they’d have to put right in order to get anything from the match.

And they started well, as a 47th minute corner was cleared, but reset and crossed in for another, which went across the face of goal and after misplayed attempts to cross fell to Justin Portillo, but his shot from the edge of the box was saved.

And then, on 51′ a Montreal corner was cleared, and it was time for the Battery to utilize the counter. It was led by Romario Williams, who had Ricky Garbanzo to his left and played him in. Garbanzo’s first touch was decent, but though the ball looked to have nestled in the back of the net, it hit the side netting and went behind for a goal kick.

Garbanzo then was replaced by Jeffrey Otoo, on loan from Atlanta United, making his USL debut. With his first meaningful touch just before the hour mark, he played Maikel Chang down the line and in on goal, and forced Crepeaux into another save, who at this point was keeping his side in the game, while Chang met his own rebound and hit the post.

And missed chances  again would haunt the Battery, but this time it was solely down to an error. On 64  The ball was played out of the back toward Griffith, who then looked to switch cross field toward his opposite number, Obi Woodbine. But the ball was read the entire way by a Montreal midfielder, Tabla, who picked his spot into the bottom corner to double the visitors’ lead.

It was shortly after this that the Battery threw on Heviel Cordoves, who’s made somewhat of a living being the Battery’s “Super-Sub”, and his presence was no doubt required if the home side were going to get anything from the game.

A succession of corners with about 20 minutes to go almost gave the Battery a lifeline, but Shawn Ferguson had one saved, and it clipped the bar on the way over, while the following corner was saved off the line after Forrest Lasso jumped to meet it. It was not for the want of trying for the home side, but the luck just wasn’t there at that point.

Until they finally got a lifeline in the 78th minute. Second half sub Dante Marini whipped the ball in toward the back post, which left Crepeaux scrambling as it curled toward goal. The save he made left him on the ground, and Maikel Chang picked up the pieces, giving him a tap in to reduce arrears and giving the Battery a lifeline.

The Battery would then throw the old kitchen sink at Montreal in hopes of the equalizer, Heviel Cordoves’ shot on 83 looking dangerous but lacking power as it rolled into the ‘keepers arms.

But the game was put to bed with 4 minutes left, the ball not properly cleared after a good cross into the Battey box, and after a scramble, it was Louis Beland Goyette sealing the points away from home for Montreal.

In the end, it was disheartening for the Battery, who had played well in some stretches, but paid the price for some complacency when it came to the final third.

Despite this, they’ll have to dust themselves off quickly with a trip to Richmond their next match on Wednesday, August 17th. Kick off is at 7PM

 

TOP IMAGE: QUINTON GRIFFITH FIGHTS FOR A BALL ON THE WING IN THE FIRST HALF. PHOTO CREDIT: ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battery frustrated in draw against Charlotte

The Charleston Battery and Charlotte Independence shred the points in what surely must have been a frustrating result for the Black and Yellow as the score ended 1-1.

The Battery struck early through Romario Williams, but while the home side dominated the first half, the second was far from it as they slowly allowed Charlotte into the match.

A ball down the line to Heviel Cordoves in the 2nd minute was well cut out by the Charlotte defense, but gave Obi Woodbine the chance to launch one into the box, which was cleared, but fell to Justin Portillo on the volley, but the shot went over the bar.

But the Battery would indeed break the deadlock, after Maikel Chang, fresh off some standout performances in recent weeks, including being player of the week, found space in midfield before threading a pass to the striker Williams, who stretched to beat the defenders and the onrushing ‘keeper to stick the ball into the back of the net for 1-0.

Then, eight minutes later, it was Chang again causing the problems, crossing the ball in which needed to be cleared for a corner, but it eventually led to nothing.

But while Battery started the better team, it was Charlotte that finished the half best, utilizing the counter to great effect, which might have been a precursor to what was to come.

They started the half the better team, and the Battery came out sleepy. It was crosses in that were giving the Battery problems early on, as Charlotte were finding extra space on the flanks.

To get back the foothold that the Battery had in the first half, and help shore up the midfield that was getting overrun, Attulah Guerra came on for Heviel Cordoves, whose night ended without the chance to score his third goal in a row after some clutch goals in back to back games against New York and Cincinnati.

After 61′, Charlotte had a dangerous chance after a pass was pulled back on the edge of the penalty area, but a shot from distance went wide.

Chris Tsonis would come on for the goalscorer, Romario Williams. Tsonis being one to put himself about a bit, and unlucky not to score a go ahead goal against Cincinnati, with hopes to atone here.

 

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But it was Charlotte who would have the next chance, when good play down the left, a scramble, and a short pass fell to Caleb Calvert, who smashed it home in front of the onrushing Odisnel Cooper to level things again.

Despite the Battery holding out well defensively, the goal had been coming, as the home side took their foot off the gas in the second half, and had finally paid the price.

And not too long after that, Brian Brown latched onto a through ball, ’rounding the goalkeeper Cooper and shooting toward goal. The effort seemed destined for the back of the net, though Forrest Lasso saved the ball on the line with some quick thinking and cleared the ball for a corner, which was cleared at the back post.

The Battery to turn things around late, but were nearly caught again when a cross was deflected onto the post, and the rebound forced a reflex save out of Odisnel Cooper before it was scrambled clear, and the chance was eventually gone.

In stoppage time, the Battery’s late heroics so far this year nearly kicked in again, when late pressure from the home side went out for a corner. The ball was played in by Justin Portillo, who had all 10 outfield players to choose from, but in looking for Forrest Lasso, put the ball too close to the ‘keeper, and the ball was cleared as the whistle blew for full time.

And so, after getting a crucial four points from playoff rivals on the road in the past two matches, the Battery were indeed frustrated by the Independence on this night, and will have ten days to mull over it before they face Montreal on August 13th at MUSC Health Stadium. Kick off is at 7:30PM.

TOP IMAGE: THE JUMBOTRON BEFORE THE MATCH SHOWS TWO TEAMS READY TO SQUARE OFF AHEAD OF A CRUNCH TIE AS THE SEASON WINDS DOWN INTO THE HOME STRETCH. CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY