Battery turned around in Richmond

Despite taking an early lead, the Charleston Battery dropped points Saturday against the Richmond Kickers by a score of 3-1.

The Battery were without the suspended Romario Williams due to yellow card accumulation, but it was his replacement, Heviel Cordoves that put the Black and Yellow in front before a pair of goals from Sunny Jane and Oliver had the home side in front at half time. The Battery then came out in the second half and attacked, with a late push to boot, but Yudai Imura gave the Kickers insurance in stoppage time to condemn the Battery to a loss.

Skylar Thomas was at right back, replacing Quinton Griffith, while Obi Woodbine returned from suspension on the opposite side. Jarad van Schaik would slot in on the left in midfield, whilst Tah Brian Anunga would partner Justin Portillo in the middle. Maikel Chang would round out the midfield on the right, and Attaula Guerra would partner the aforementioned Cordoves up front.

The scoring was opened in as early in the second minute, when Cordoves controlled the ball from a knockdown inside the box, turned, and squeezed the ball into the corner to give the visitors the early lead.

However, Richmond would settle quickly, and got themselves back in the game not long after.

Sunny Jane would put the Kickers on terms again just after 17′, when he volleyed from the edge of the box after the defenders at the edge of the box couldn’t make a challenge to level.

On 23′ came a dangerous pull back on the right from Skylar Thomas to the top of the box that was saved well by the ‘keeper, but the ensuing corner was cleared away and the referee blew up for a foul.

Four minutes later, it was Justin Portillo at the edge of the D who would feed a through ball to Jarad van Schaik, who would sting the ‘keeper’s hands with a save.

On 35’ there was action at the other end as Fernando found his way to the byline, but couldn’t find anyone in the box and it was cleared away.

But just a minute later, the Kickers would be right back down the Battery’s throat. This time, it was the goalscorer, Jane combining with his strike partner, Oliver, who controlled at the top of the box and scored.

So, from up early, the Battery found themselves down. They would have to keep their heads up if they were to get anything from the game, and not let their current woes get the best of them.

And shortly after, the Battery looked promising as a ball was put behind for a corner kick, but it was caught by the ‘keeper, who looked to start a counter before it was cut out near the top of the box.

A Battery corner with two minutes left to go until half time was played in before a free kick was given for a foul on a defender.

And that’s how the half ended. There were noticeable shakes of the head from the Battery players coming off, and while understandable, they would hope that that wouldn’t be the nerves setting in.

And they came out of the blocks in the second half on the attack.

A 49th minute effort from Heviel Cordoves went wide of the far post as the Battery looked to turn the screw, while some good buildup shortly after fell to Obi Woodbine, who seemed to mishit a volleyed attempt on the right side of the box into the side netting.

And than, on 53, came perhaps the visitors’ best chance to equalize. Cordoves would receive an inch perfect through ball that left him 1-on-1 with the goalkeeper, and he tried to guide the ball into the bottom corner only for the ball to hit the post.

Richmond had a free kick on 65′ eventually cleared out for a throw in, which led to nothing as the Battery’s quest for an equalizer wore on.

And Attaula Guerra had another chance on 71′ as he latched onto a great through ball from Maikel Chang, but the ‘keeper was there to deny his attempt low as he got down to it. The ensuing corner led to nothing as time began to run out.

A couple minutes later, the Black and Yellow had a free kick that led to nothing as they looked to have run out of ideas after the couple of flowing moves were thwarted.

The Battery were reduced to a lot of huffing and puffing late on, but no real chances came until the home side would put themselves out of sight late on.

Yudai Imura’s 92nd minute free kick from 25 yards beat Odisnel Cooper at his near post despite the ‘keeper getting a hand to it, having seen it late.

And that was how the game ended. The Battery couldn’t take advantage of the teams above them losing, and couldn’t turn an early lead into points.

Next up for the Black and Yellow are Louisville City away from home on September 2nd at 5PM. You can watch the match on MyTV Charleston, or stream it on the club’s website.

TOP IMAGE:  PICTURED EARLIER THIS YEAR, HEVIEL CORDOVES SCORED HIS 2ND GOAL OF THE SEASON DESPITE LOSING TO LONGTIME RIVALS RICHMOND.

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A Comprehensive Look at the 2017 Battery

The Charleston Battery begin their 25th anniversary season with a few brownie points in their pocket after a largely successful pre-season campaign. The Carolina Challenge Cup returned, bringing the Seattle Sounders, Columbus Crew and the Battery’s MLS affiliate Atlanta United to the Holy City in what was a very successful week for the club on and off the pitch.

The Battery drew two and lost one in the CCC, as they showed a lot of grit for a team who’d only been together for a few weeks. They earned a draw with Seattle thanks to Kotaro Higashi‘s 90th minute equalizer, and led the Columbus Crew for a majority of the game despite eventually conceding a goal, before coming up unlucky against Atlanta United, earning a taste of their own late-goal medicine.

The loss to Atlanta was one of only two in the pre-season, only losing on their travels to North Carolina FC. The Battery filled out their pre-season with their usual meetings with local college teams, winning seven of their eight non-CCC games despite the loss to their northern counterparts, with Heviel Cordoves, Attaula Guerra, and Romario Williams playing starring roles in more than a few big wins for the Black and Yellow.

Last year ended on a slightly sour note for the Battery after sort of grinding to a halt. They didn’t particularly finish the season well, but did cause an upset of sorts after turning heads by silencing a rocking Nippert Stadium and beating FC Cincinnati away from home. However, they bowed out of the playoffs thanks to a loss to Louisville City in the conference semis, falling to the #2 seed as New York Red Bulls II would eventually win the league title.

Lack of depth was a problem for the Black and Yellow last season, which was a big reason why momentum slowed down toward the middle-to-end of last year, and the Front Office has gone a little ways to correct this in 2017, completing six new signings after a fruitful batch of trials during pre-season, whilst also keeping hold of a large number of last season’s standouts, barring Zach Prince and Shawn Ferguson, who hung up their boots at the end of the last campaign.

The Battery took advantage of partnerships in the PDL by welcoming Nico Rittmeyer and Ryan Arambula into the fold from Tormenta FC and the Myrtle Beach Mutiny respectively, whilst Rittmeyer adds to a successful batch of College of Charleston alums to come through the Battery doors, and both players were involved with the SC Battery Academy early on in their careers.

Tah Brian Anunga is another new recruit after bouncing around at several levels of the USL, commonly used as a defensive midfielder in pre-season, he has past links to Wilmington and the Carolina Dynamo, and has represented his native Cameroon at U-17, U-20, and U-23 levels.

Former first round draft pick Skylar Thomas joins after spending time with Toronto FC II. He had 47 appearances with the Canadian side, and looks to establish himself as the successor to the now-retired Shawn Ferguson. He was also one to deputize at Left Back, given that Obrien Woodbine will be suspended for the first three matches of the new campaign.

Perhaps the most talked about addition is that of Kotaro Higashi. He helped his cause by scoring the equalizer in the draw with Seattle during the CCC, and impressing during the rest of the pre-season on his way to a contract.

Goalkeeper Joe Kuzminski joins after a successful college career at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, where he served three years as a starter and was captain during his senior year. He’ll likely serve as back up to Odisnel Cooper, who returns after a solid 2016. Given his age, you’d wonder if Kuzminski is seen as the one for the future for the club, and in which case, learning from the experienced Cooper, as well as coach Dusty Hudock, can only help his development.

The Battery again take advantage of their affiliation with Atlanta United, welcoming back Romario Williams and Jeffrey Otoo for the 2017 season. Additionally, Alex Tambakis and Mikey Ambrose will be available for Charleston against Cincy, as Ambrose will look to fill the hole left by the suspended Woodbine.

The new season looks to be an interesting one for the Battery, with anticipation being high ahead of their silver anniversary. The fact that six of their first ten matches are at home can only help, as a good start will certainly be beneficial in a season that runs from March 25th until mid-October.

Our first match, at home against FC Cincinnati, will definitely not be easy. Cincy are going into the new season with a new manager, and will certainly have a bad taste in their mouth following their early exit from the playoffs at the hands of the Black and Yellow.

The Battery begin their 25th season this coming Saturday against FC Cincinnati. You can watch the match on MyTV Charleston, or stream it via the club’s website or on YouTube.

TOP IMAGE: THE BATTERY PREPARE FOR A MATCH LAST SEASON AT MUSC HEALTH STADIUM. ROSS ALMERS PHOTO

 

 

Battery come from behind in Cincy to advance in Playoffs

The Charleston Battery have advanced to the second round of the USL Playoffs after they dug deep to reverse a 1-0 deficit in Cincinatti, coming from behind to win 2-1 thanks to goals from Chris Tsonis and Zach Prince.

The match was in front of an astounding 30,000-plus crowd at Nippert Stadium, breaking the USL Playoff attendance record by some 10,000, and continuing FC Cincinatti’s stellar attendance figures.

The Battery could’ve capitalized on a mistake as early as the fifth minute, when Mitch Hildebrandt in goal for the home side dilly dallied with the ball at his feet and had it tackled away. Just as Romario Williams was shaping up to shoot however, the ‘keeper dived back onto the ball and the danger was averted.

On nine minutes, Andrew Wiedeman had a shot from distance, but the effort went well wide of Alex Tambakis in the Battery goal.

But ten minutes later, midfielder Eric Stevenson had acres of space about 25 yards from goal, looked up and decided to have his own pop at goal. This time, the shot was much better, as it arrowed into the top corner, giving the hosts a 1-0 lead.

The fact that no one came out to close down the effort is something the Battery defense will be frustrated with, but take nothing away, the goal was brilliant, and Cincy were in front, leaving the Battery under the cosh a little, especially with such a big crowd on their back.

But perhaps the biggest credit given to the Battery was that the heads didn’t drop. The long ball up to strikers Romario Williams and Chris Tsonis was effective, and the visitors stuck to the game plan.

Their next chance was on the half an hour mark as good build up play found Zach Prince with a bit of space, but his shot went straight to Hildebrandt.

On 35′, Shaun Okoli, who was the Golden Boot winner in the USL regular season, was played in behind, but seemed indecisive as an apparent shot hit the side netting.

Five minutes later, it was something the Battery fans know well that gave them a lifeline. A long throw by Obi Woodbine sailed into the box and found the head of Chris Tsonis, who simply out-jumped Hildebrandt and nodded the ball into an empty net. The home side were looking for a foul on the ‘keeper, but on replay, it showed that Hildebrandt had positioned himself in a side-on position to get more power on a punch, but Tsonis got his head to the ball first, and the score was level.

Woodbine’s throw-in has been an effective weapon throughout the season, and his rocket-launcher like throw in came in handy again, getting the Battery right back into the thick of things.

But yet, Alex Tambakis would have to come up big as we entered stoppage time in the first half, when a ball lofted up into the box found Weideman, who took a touch, but couldn’t get an effort at goal off as Tambakis came and smothered the ball.

Cincinatti had a quick succession of corners, but nothing came of them, before a corner on the hour mark led to a counter from Romario Williams. He was without options and had to go it alone, racing toward goal against three Cincinatti defenders before shooting just before he got into the penalty area, and the effort was blazed over.

But then, on 64’ Zach Prince got to the edge of the box, and looked to shoot before being crowded out, and got the ball to Dante Marini just before the ball was cleared, who then played Romario Williams in stride, who forced a fantastic save from Mitch Hildebrandt to deny the Battery’s leading scorer the go ahead goal.as the ball went out for a corner.

The danger wasn’t over though, as Maikel Chang took the set piece that found Prince at the front post, who aimed a header toward goal, and the ball bounced off the defender on the line, went along the goal line and settled in the left side of the net to give the Battery the lead.

The Battery had been slowly gaining momentum up to that point, but the home side’s failure to deal with set pieces had come back to haunt them not once, but twice. The Battery had come back from a goal down, and only needed to hold on to get into the next round.

Pat McMahon took the initiative though four minutes later after he was on the end of some good buildup play, but his shot went high over the bar.

On 70′, Shaun Okoli took down a deflected pass and turned his man before getting a shot off, but the effort was saved by Tambakis.

Then, a minute later, the subs began for the Battery, with Naviel Hackshaw coming on for Chris Tsonis. Tsonis, with the first half goal to equalize for the Black and Yellow, took his tally up to four for the year, all of which were equalizers.

Cincinnati had some dangerous build up again on 72′ before Corben Bone found Andrew Weideman, who took a crack on the volley, but his shot was saved by Tambakis.

Heviel Cordoves replaced Romario Williams on 77′. Williams quietly went about his business in this game, providing pace and getting involved in link up play, but he’ll be frustrated that his only real chance, the breakaway midway through the second half, was blazed wide.

And then Stevenson, who already had a worldie today, took a crack from distance with 8 minutes to go, but the shot would go wide.

The home side would pile on the pressure late, earning a few free kicks, including one which was played toward the back post, which was saved by Tambakis in the 84th.

A short corner with a minute in normal time to go could’ve killed the game off for the visitors, but Attaulla Guerra’s shot after a cheeky one two and turn into the box went straight at the ‘keeper.

Hearts were in mouths for both sides as the board went up for four minutes stoppage time, and again when Cincinnati got a corner in the dying seconds, but nothing really came of the late possession that the home side had, and as the ball was cleared by the Battery defense following the corner, the referee blew for full time.

And so, it was the Battery, going up to Cincinnati and pulling off the upset, coming from behind to win. After Louisville beat Richmond after extra time, it will be Louisville next away from home for the Battery.

GAME WINNER ZACH PRINCE FIGHTS FOR A BALL WITH A GOALKEEPER EARLIER IN THE SEASON. PHOTO CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY

 

 

 

 

 

Screamer stuns Battery in loss to Montreal

The Battery were made to pay for a slow start on Wednesday afternoon, as they fell 2-1 away from home against FC Montreal. The hosts went ahead after 14 minutes through Anthony Jackson-Hamel, before Jeremy Ebobisse‘s goal on his full debut five minutes from half time gave the Battery a lifeline. But a late long range effort from Jimmy Shamaar Sanon gave Montreal all three points.

FC Montreal’s first chance came just four minutes in, as Chuarniere got around his man and forced a save from Odisnel Cooper, who tipped the ball out for a corner, which was cleared.

On six minutes, Zach Prince had a shot blocked at the other end, but it was cleared before anyone could follow in.

And then the Battery were behind on 14 minutes. A cross from the right came in for Anthony Jackson-Hamel, and Taylor Meuller overplayed the flight of the ball, giving him space to control and turn, firing past Cooper in goal to make it 1-0. It was a good goal, and probably deserved for Montreal, given the run of play early on, but the Battery would know that the start they made wasn’t good enough.

The Battery would play the ball up to Romario Williams on 20′, and he controlled well, though his shot would go into the side netting.

Montreal were asking questions again on 26′, with a corner taken short that the Battery failed to fully deal with and had to struggle it out for a corner, but that was dealt with and away.

The Battery would have their lifeline late in the first half, when Jeremy Ebobisse latched on to a ball from midfield, took a touch to square up to his defender, then another to create space before curling an effort into the top corner.

The Battery were on level terms headed into the break, knowing that the second half would have to be better at least from a starting point, as they did come into a little later on in the half, but there were definitely improvements needed.

But like the first half, the hosts had the first chance of the second period, countering after winning the ball in midfield. The cross was inch perfect and forced a save out of Odisnel Cooper from a header as the ball seemed destined for goal. The corner, however, was well dealt with.

Maikel Chang’s 49th minute free kick was played into Zach Prince, but he couldn’t control at the back post as the ball went out for a goal kick.

Goalscorer Jeremy Ebobisse had another chance from a Maikel Chang header down after Quinton Griffith‘s cross in, but the shot lacked power and went into the ‘keeper’s arms.

Montreal had a man sent off just before the hour after a challenge on Attullah Guerra in midfield. The challenge was two footed, and Guerra had to jump to avoid it, and the referee blew for a free kick, eventually sending the player off.

Ricky Garbanzo would replace Ebobisse on 60 minutes, coming on for his pace and pressing ability. Ebobisse could be happy with his full debut, scoring to get his team back in the match. He just looked a little tired as he came off, and so perhaps it was a smart move to get some fresh legs on.

Garbanzo would nearly make an instant impact, after Guerra won the ball back and played a 1-2 with the sub, as Garbanzo sped away down the wing, then played a low cross for Williams, who turned and shot, but the effort was high.

With 20 minutes left, a Romario Williams shot which was deflected earned the visitors a corner, which was played in by Maikel Chang. Zach Prince would make a late run onto the inch perfect ball, but he couldn’t direct it on target.

Andrew Carleton would come on shortly afterward, making his first appearance since July, having spent time with the US Youth set up.

Two minutes later, Prince could’ve made amends after Quinton Griffith’s cross fell to Prince, but his shot bounced off the turf and over the bar.

And on 81′ the Battery would pay for not converting their chances, when Jimmy Schamaar Sanon got space on the left and cut in, and wasn’t closed down before unleashing an absolute thunderbolt from all of twenty yards past Odisnel Cooper.

The Battery were up against it then, but on 86′, Ricky Garbanzo got the ball from Andrew Carleton, and had a shot of his own from distance, but the ball went over the bar.

In stoppage time, the Battery could’ve had a penalty as they threw the kitchen sink at Montreal, as a ball popped out toward Heviel Cordoves, and he went down under a challenge, but the referee gave a corner, which was cleared.

And so the Battery fell away from home. It turns out that Montreal have been somewhat of a bogey team for the Battery, their record all time being 3-0-1. The Battery next face the Bethlehem Steel, in a match where they will honor Leukemia and Lymphoma awareness month by wearing special orange and white kits on Saturday, September 10th. Kick off is at 7:30.

TWO PLAYERS BATTLE FOR POSSESSION IN THE LAST MEETING BETWEEN THESE TWO SIDES. ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battery fail to convert chances in loss to Rochester

It was a match that could’ve easily went the other way, but the Battery just couldn’t take their chances, allowing the Rochester Rhinos to overturn a Justin Portillo penalty in the first half to come back and win.

Rochester had the first sniff of the game, but only turning it into a half chance when an early corner was flicked on at the near post across the face of goal, only to squirm all the way through the box and be cleared away from danger.

The Battery’s first meaningful attack led to a penalty just after a quarter of an hour when Quinton Griffith got a cross into the box which didn’t get into any dangerous areas, but only because his marker handled the ball. The referee took a beat to think about the decision, and then pointed to the spot, and it was Portillo who slotted home coolly from 12 yards.

A Rochester corner in the 19th was cleared out after causing a little bit of trouble, but the away side were threatening to find their way back in to the match the more it wore on.

But things could’ve been different, when Quinton Griffith got himself free again on the flank and picked out Ricky Garbanzo, who tried to aim the header down and make it hard for the ‘keeper, but the effort lacked purchase and went straight into his arms. As such, the Battery knew they should have been two up, and it would come back to haunt them.

Two minutes later, the away side countered and drove through midfield, committing numbers to the attack, when Christian Volesky found himself in the box with the ball at his feet, and he would turn his defender and smash home for the equalizer.

While somewhat unlucky, the Battery needed to be better at converting their chances if they were going to get anything from the game, knowing that Rochester have one of the best defenses in the entire league, winning the championship last year where the backline carried the load.

Though shortly after, Quinton Griffith would continue his good night, cutting in and sending a cutting pass that was dummied and eventually found the other full back Obi Woodbine, who kept his composure when faced by the goalkeeper and stuck the ball home. However, the flag went up for offside, and the goal was ruled out.

And that’s the way the teams went in at the break. 1-1 was probably a fair scoreline, but it could’ve also been said that the Battery were slightly the better team, and just weren’t ruthless enough.

The Battery could’ve had a go-ahead goal almost straight out of the break, when a clearance from a Battery corner fell to the foot of Woodbine, and almost like the goal he scored in Charlotte a few weeks ago, he ripped one from long range. This time though, it cracked the underside of the crossbar and was cleared long.

And just a moment later, the Battery forced another corner, this time from the right, which was played in and flicked on, but just beyond the diving Shawn Ferguson, but the Battery Captain couldn’t make contact as the ball just alluded his outstretched leg.

The next chance came way of Rhinos goalscorer Valesky, who received the ball in the box on 56, and slotted the ball along the ground for what looked to be a certain goal, but somehow Alex Tambakis stayed big and got down to the effort to keep it out.

Valesky would then latch onto a through ball from midfield on the hour mark, leaving him one on one with Tambakis, but the striker would sky his effort.

Then soon after, the Battery had their chance, with Heviel Cordoves getting through on goal himself, but as he looked for an angle to shoot, he gave the ‘keeper too much time to close him down, and he made the striker panic as he shot, which the goalkeeper parried away.

Maikel Chang would find Dante Marini in the box on 72′, but the winger would lean back as he took the effort and push the ball just wide.

And the Battery would pay for not showing their ruthless streak, as on 82′, A ball played around the box would force Tambakis into a great double save, but the ball refused to get clear and fell to a Rochester foot, and somehow, after making that miraculous double save, the ball would somehow find its way under the goalkeeper and into the net, giving Rochester a late lead.

And despite a late push from the Battery, that’s how things would end. The hopes of gaining third place, and more home games in the playoffs, are dwindling for the Battery. Richmond are idle this weekend, and even a point, which would’ve drawn them level in the standings, would’ve been a degree of success for the Black and Yellow, but it was not to be.

The Battery travel to Montreal next for a midweek tie against FC Montreal on Wednesday, September 7th. Please be aware of the early kickoff, which is at 2:00PM.

TOP IMAGE: THE SCOREBOARD SHOWS THE TWO TEAMS BEFORE KICK OFF ON A SATURDAY EVENING OF FRUSTRATION FOR THE BATTERY. ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO.

Portillo’s Free Kick steals point against Kickers; sends Battery to Playoffs

Justin Portillo’s wonderful free kick gave the Battery an equalizer, thus earning them a point as they drew 1-1 on Wednesday night against the Richmond Kickers.

It was probably a fair result given the physicality of the match, and yellow cards were brandished to both sides over the 90 minutes, with challenges being central to both teams’ goals.

The first half didn’t give us much to talk about, with both sides creating half-chances, but lacking the final ball on a number of occasions. The two defenses were stout, and space was tight in the first 45, the best chance perhaps falling to Richmond after Shawn Ferguson misjudged a low cross after 17′ and fluffed a clearance, which fell to the feet of Jackson Eskay. Eskay expected the ball to be cleared however, and therefore was on the back foot, and did eventually get a weak effort on target, but it was saved by Alex Tambakis.

Romario Williams would get the ball in a dangerous position for the Battery, but just as he was shaping to shoot, he was closed down by William Yomby with a great slide tackle.

Not too long after, Jackson Eskay was through again, and again Tambakis would come to the rescue, this time producing a double save, one which drove the ball away from goal, and another which was tipped around the post. The corner led to nothing, and the teams remained scoreless into half time.

There wasn’t really any cutting edge to either team in the first half. Both sides looked to play the ball around and look for the movement to open up instead of pushing to create, and the 0-0 score as the teams went in was justified.

But it didn’t take long for that to change. Though the man looked to have been fouled, the referee allowed the Kickers to play on, and Richmond’s Fred Owusu Sekyere played a ball through that split the defense and gave striker Anthony Grant an easy finish to open the scoring after 50 minutes.

It had looked like a foul leading up to the goal, but nonetheless the Battery were behind, which quickly got some changes brewing for the away side. Heviel Cordoves was the first to come on for Romario Williams who seemed to cut a distant figure for long stretches as the service up to him wasn’t great. The substitute Cordoves would at the very least give something else for the defenders to think about, as William Yomby was winning the battle with Williams in one on one situations.

But despite going down, the Battery never looked out of it. In the 62nd minute, a Battery corner was headed back across goal, and Dante Marini got on the end of it with a volley that looked to be destined for the back of the net had it not been for William Yomby’s clearance.

Jeffery Otoo came on shortly after, and his impact was soon felt as he would burst toward the box with first meaningful touch, and be knocked off the ball on the edge of the area, setting up a Justin Portillo free kick from 19 yards that dipped and curled into the net, leaving Andrew Dykstra stranded and knotting things up once more.

But with 20 minutes left in the match, Alex Tambakis had to come up big after goalscorer Grant played Yudai Imura through, but Tambakis rose to the occasion as he got his fingertips to the powerful effort and tipped it onto the bar and out for a corner, which led to nothing.

Yudai Imura would again be involved with 8 minutes to go. He latched onto a loose ball on the left and kept it alive by playing it through the six yard area, but the ball went hopelessly through everyone and was cleared away.

It was then the Battery’s turn to make a late push, after  86, there was some good build up play by Maikel Chang  find a pass to Heviel Cordoves, who then played Attaula Guerra, but Guerra mishit the effort, which went wide.

On 89′, a Battery corner was cleared and then put back into the area by Chang with the low cross, but his searching ball was cleared for a corner which was wasted.

There was a scare right at the death for the Black and Yellow, who gave away a corner in added time, though Alex Tambakis would claim, and the referee would blow the final whistle soon after, giving each team a point.

The result means that with five games left, the Battery have clinched a playoff spot. With a win, the Battery could’ve leap frogged Richmond into third, but remain one point behind the Kickers with the draw. Though they will surely be happy with the playoff berth and the point away from home.

The Battery return home next, facing the Rochester Rhinos on September 3rd. Kick Off is at 7:30.

TONIGHT’S GOALSCORER JUSTIN PORTILLO LOOKS ON FOLLOWING A SET PIECE THAT HE PLAYED IN. PHOTO CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY

 

 

 

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