Second half goals earn Battery a point in Cincy

The Battery went into Saturday looking to make amends for a midweek Cup loss to Atlanta United, but with FC Cincinnati the opponent away from home, it wasn’t going to be an easy task. The match would be up and down throughout, eventually finishing 2-2.

There were three changes to the side that lost in Georgia in midweek, with Tah Brian Anunga filling in at right back and Quinton Griffith replacing Obi Woodbine at left back.  Justin Portillo was back in midfield, after a knock kept him out of the Cup match on Wednesday, while Romario Williams returned following international duty with Jamaica.

The two teams would start slowly before a free kick was given to the hosts in the third minute, setting up the first chance of the evening from about 40 yards out on the right. Cincinnati would send the big bodies forward as an in-swinger was wafted in at the back post. Odisnel Cooper came to claim the ball, but an attacker would just nick the ball on wth a flick header before Cooper could reach for the ball, which would fall to striker Djibi Fall to head into the empty net.

There may have been a hint of offside about it, as the attacker looked to be behind Naveal Hackshaw when receiving the ball. The header on that beat Cooper would’ve made that another phase of play, in which the attacker did seem to drift offside. The goal was given though, and the Battery found themselves with an early deficit.

The visitors were lucky to not be two down after 10′, when Danni Konig flashed a shot wide of Cooper’s far post, which is a chance he seemed certain to finish having been in solid form coming into the game.

Ricky Garbanzo and his strike partner Williams combined for a slick one-two just a short while later, but the goalkeeper, Mitch Hildebrandt, was there to intercept before a proper chance could be fashioned.

Dante Marini would win the ball back on the right flank and slide the ball into Kotaro Higashi at the top of the box, and the winger would just try and wrap his foot around the ball in a curling effort, but his shot would go straight to the ‘keeper.

Patient buildup from the Black and Yellow found Romario Williams in the box a short time later, but the Battery’s leading scorer couldn’t direct his header on goal.

On 25’, Williams would win a free kick on the right, which would be taken by set-piece specialist Portillo and find Taylor Mueller at the back stick, only for the defender to direct his header wide, despite doing well to get above his marker and create the opportunity.

Ten minutes before half time, Dante Marini would have a handball claim shot down by the ref, and a promising chance would then break down after too much time was taken around the box.

Shortly after, Williams and Higashi would combine in the box, before a ball across found Ricky Garbanzo, who couldn’t quite turn to get the shot away.

But in first half stoppage time, Jimmy McGlaughlin’s shot after a great run down the left would force Odisnel Cooper to palm a shot onto the post and behind for a corner, though the set piece would eventually be collected and danger would be averted.

And so, the Battery would find themselves down at half time, though it wasn’t for the want of trying. Despite going behind through the early goal, the Battery had the most meaningful of possession, but couldn’t convert that possession into clear cut opportunities, obviously something they would have to work on if they were to get anything from the match.

And the search would continue in earnest when Quinton Griffith would get a shot off on 46′, but his effort would go high over the bar.

In the 50th, a Battery counter was led by Naveal Hackshaw and would fall to Williams on the edge of the box, but he couldn’t find room to get a shot away as two defenders would descend upon him. The striker would eventually be booked after giving away a foul and allowing Cincy respite from the pressure.

Six minutes later, Tah Brian Anunga would go on a great run to the byline on the right, crossing in for Williams in the middle of the box, but he couldn’t get any purchase on the first time shot as Hildebrandt would collect.

On 58′, Tah and Williams would combine again, but the header from the striker would be off target.

Djibi Fall could’ve doubled his tally, and his side’s lead on 64′, when he got behind Forrest Lasso to connect with a cross deep inside the box, but his header would flash wide of the target.

And just two minutes later, he would live to rue the miss. Ricky Garbanzo would find Romario Williams from the right, who would just get ahead of his man to toe poke the ball past the ‘keeper and into the far post, putting the Battery level with his 12th goal of the campaign, continuing his great start to the season.

The goal was deserved for the Battery at this stage, as they continued to pile on pressure in the search for a leveler. Finally, the dam broke, and they found themselves with a goal, and ample time to add to it as well.

Shortly after, Obi Woodbine would replace Tah Brian Anunga, going into the left back position, with Quinton Griffith sliding over to the opposite flank.

But Djibi Fall could’ve put his side back ahead only five minutes later, when he got in behind Forrest Lasso and looked to be 1-on-1 with Cooper before the defender made a great last ditch challenge to clear away for a corner, which Cooper claimed from a Cincinnati header.

The Battery found themselves with a throw in level with the six yard box on the left, which left Obi Woodbine with the opportunity for a long throw into the box on 71’. The ball found the head of Naveal Hackshaw, who flicked it on for Forrest Lasso, who provided the first time finish to put the Battery ahead 2-1.

There’s an old adage that if you wait long enough for one bus, two will come along at once, and the Battery had that feeling after working so hard for the equalizer, only to find themselves with one goal so quickly after the equalizer.

With just under a quarter of an hour to go, Djibi Fall looked to get his head to a cross in the box, but a foul was given before there was danger to Odisnel Cooper’s goal.

And on 78′, another Woodbine throw looked dangerous as it fell in the box, but a shot would be blocked by a horde of defenders before it went out on the other side and was eventually cleared.

The home side would eventually find an equalizer of their own when, with ten minutes to go, the Battery couldn’t clear the ball before it fell to Andrew Weidemann, who took a touch to control, turn and then fire past Cooper all on the volley to level.

It was unfortunate for the visitors, who had worked so hard to be in the position they were in, but especially with a team as dangerous as Cincinnati, when they piled on the pressure, the defense had to remain vigilant, and were perhaps guilty of not clearing the ball away despite the great work from the goalscorer to level.

But there were chances in the game yet.

Heviel Cordoves and Maikel Chang would come on, replacing Ricky Garbanzo and Dante Marini in the last ten minutes, and it was Cordoves who could’ve provided some heroics for his side in stoppage time, rising to meet a cross into the box for a free header, but it lacked power and went straight into the arms of Mitch Hildebrandt.

And that’s how the match finished. A point at a noisy Nippert Stadium, with the atmosphere, and Cincy having just come off of a Cup win against Columbus, wasn’t the worst result, but having come from behind to lead, it was a painful result nonetheless. However, the Battery remained top in the East after Tampa Bay would draw, but Louisville’s 3-0 win over Pittsburgh took them into second place, three points behind us with two games in hand.

The Battery return home Saturday, June 24th, taking on Toronto FC II. Kickoff is at 7PM, and you can watch the match on MyTV Charleston, or Stream it via the club’s website.

TOP IMAGE: THE BATTERY DEFEND A CROSS IN THIS SEASON’S PREVIOUS MEETING WITH FC CINCY. ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO

Battery get revenge on Jacksonville to advance in Open Cup

The Charleston Battery’s fourth round US Open Cup tie against the Jacksonville Armada was settled by a 24th minute own goal, which was enough to see them through after a tough defensive showing from the Black and Yellow.

The Battery put out what was pretty much their first choice XI in what was their third match in six days, with Forrest Lasso back after missing the last two matches, and Tah Brian Anunga slotting in at right back for Quinton Griffith. Odisnel Cooper kept his place in goal whilst the tandem of Romario Williams and Attaula Guerra would play up front.

The Battery had chances early, and even had the ball in the net as early as the 10th minute, but the whistle blew for offside and the score remained 0-0.

Romario Williams sent a chance wide of the target on 17′, as the Battery looked to be in control in the early goings.

But the Armada had a chance at the other end a few minutes later, as striker Byram Rebellon sent a chance wide of Odisnel Cooper’s goal.

And then, in the 24th minute, the Battery broke the deadlock. It was set up by a well timed ball into the feet of Attaula Guerra, who would peel off his man and get to the byline before putting the ball low and hard into the middle. The cross failed to find an attacker’s foot, but instead found Drew Beckie, a Jacksonville defender, whose clearance was arrant and rolled into the net to make it 1-0. Guerra would injure himself producing the chance, however, and would eventually have to be replaced by Dante Marini.

Former USL standout Mechack Jerome had the next chance shortly after when he stood at the controls for a free kick about 30 yards out, and looked to go for power to level things up, but his effort was wide of the target and the visitors remained in front.

The Armada tried to turn the screw a little bit as we ended the first half, but a resilient Battery defense yielded little opening before the break and the Black and Yellow went ahead.

The Battery went in with their tails up and looking solid, but would be hesitant to get carried away following giving up two second half goals from the same winning position on Sunday against NYRB II, and would look to continue their defensive stronghold in the second half.

And coming out of the break, they could’ve doubled their advantage, when on 52′, Naveal Hackshaw would play Williams in. His shot toward the far post would force a good save out of the Jacksonville ‘keeper, and seconds later, the home side would be on the break.

Forrest Lasso would be the man to clear the danger for the Battery as the Armada would curl a cross toward the back post, and despite penalty appeals from the Jacksonville striker, the referee was unphased, and play would continue.

Lasso would then be booked on 56′, after he committed a foul on the right wing, giving the home side an opportunity to whip a ball into the box on a free kick, but the ball was cleared and eventually went out for a throw in.

Tah Brian Anunga would then give away a foul from a similar position on the opposite side a couple minutes later, but this one didn’t even find its way into the box, and this time it was the Battery’s chance to start a counter.

Dante Marini would use his pace to power into an advanced position before playing for Romario Williams to his right, who found a man at the top of the box only for the first touch to let him down and allow Jacksonville to clear.

But just after the hour mark, Marini would use his pace to create a chance after receiving a pass inside. His effort wasn’t unlike Williams’ earlier chance, as he would try to curl an effort toward the far post. He would just steady himself before getting the shot away, however, which would give the ‘keeper time to do the same, and he would save before the ball was cleared.

With just a little more than 15 left, Jacksonville would earn a corner that looked dangerous before Cooper would, not for the first time tonight, catch the ball and relieve the pressure.

Shortly after, Dante Marini would use his pace to run down an errant ball and set up Obi Woodbine for a trademark long throw in, though nothing came of the chance.

Romario Williams had perhaps the best chance to settle things when he turned on the jets to get around his man on the right, but his shot that looked all but destined for the bottom corner, went just wide.

Williams would have another chance just a minute later, this time receiving a pass from Hackshaw before beating his man and getting to the byline, and putting another shot wide, this one, however, was from a bit harder of an angle, more acute, and from what normally would be a crossing position, though he didn’t have many more options and decided to have an effort himself.

The lack of insurance looked to put the Battery in danger of conceding an equalizer with just five minutes left, when a Jacksonville corner would be cleared, but eventually trickle its way through the heart of the area and would leave Cooper flat-footed as he originally thought the chance would roll harmlessly wide before taking a deflection and going behind for another corner.

This one would skim the head of an attacker up from the back and then take another flick toward goal before Cooper would pluck it out of the air and relieve pressure.

Nico Rittmeyer, who must’ve been waiting for a good eight minutes, would come on with a minute of normal time to go, replacing Maikel Chang.

Four minutes of stoppage time were added, and the final chance would fall to the home side.

Naveal Hackshaw, who to this point had had perhaps his best performance this season, lost track of his man, and was forced into a foul, allowing every man to find his way into the box, including the ‘keeper, for Jacksonville. The free kick was cleared by a stout Battery defense, but a shot back in went high over Odisnel Cooper’s crossbar, the danger averted for the Black and Yellow.

And that was how it finished. The Battery had exacted revenge against the team who ousted them from the competition at this stage last year, and will go on to face MLS affiliate Atlanta United in the fourth round on June 14th at Fifth Third Bank Stadium on the campus of Kennesaw State University.

Their next match will be on June 3rd, as they return home to face Louisville in what will be the main event of a triple-header of Football action as MUSC Health Stadium will host a Champions League Final watch Party at 2:45 on the Jumbotron and in the Three Lions Pub, before the Charleston Fleet play the first game of their inaugural season at 4PM. The Battery will then take on Louisville City at 7PM. As part of their “’93 Night” tickets will be $9.30, and a ticket will get you into all three events. The match will also be streamed on the club’s website and YouTube.

 

 

 

Williams the difference in battle with Bethlehem

Romario Williams’ eighth goal of the season gave the Charleston Battery  three points in a Thursday brunchtime clash with the Bethlehem Steel.

Whilst the game took a while to get going, Williams’ effort from roughly 25 yards midway through the first half sent the Steel ‘keeper sprawling and kissed the inside of the near post on its way in. The visitors had a multitude of chances to add to the scoring in both halves following the goal, but it was a stout defense that could be given credit for a tough display on the way to a big three points for the Black and Yellow.

There were changes to the Battery side who drew 2-2 with Harrisburg the previous weekend, as they were in the middle of a three-game road stretch, and set for two games in four days. Miles Robinson, on loan from Atlanta United, would deputize for the suspended Forrest Lasso after he picked up his 5th yellow of the season against the Islanders, while Naveal Hackshaw would slot in for Tah Brian Anunga, who received his marching orders during the draw himself. Natural center back Skylar Thomas would slide to right back, replacing Quinton Griffith.

After feeling each other out in the early goings, the Battery could very well have had a penalty in the 10th minute, as Obi Woodbine latched onto a great cross-field ball and nutmegged his marker before being taken down in the box by an on-rushing second defender. Nothing was given though, and so the ball rolled out for a goal kick.

Steel striker Cory Burke would go on a mazy run into the box just a few minutes later, but Thomas would come across on the cover to clear.

Alex Tambakis would be forced into an his first save on 14′ from a tame effort from Burke, getting behind the effort to his right and crouching down on the ball to relieve the pressure and allow his side to reset.

After 28′ came the next big chance, a flick on from an inswinging corner left Skylar Thomas with the opportunity to open the scoring, but the Steel ‘keeper was able to palm the effort onto the bar to keep the scores level.

Bethlehem had a corner just past the half hour mark which was played short and crossed into the hands of Tambakis.

It wasn’t too long after that the Battery were in front. Romario Williams would control a pass in midfield before running across his defender and using his pace and strength just to earn half a yard of space before taking aim at goal and beating the ‘keeper as the ball went in off the inside of the near post. The strike took him level with former Battery player Dane Kelly on 8 goals for the season and gave the Battery the 1-0 lead.

Just a few minutes before half time, it could’ve been two. Maikel Chang lofted a ball toward the back post to a wide open Kotaro Higashi, whose volleyed effort somehow went wide.

And then Williams could’ve had himself a second just before the break, but his effort went wide.

On the whole, the Battery deserved to be in front at half time, though it remained to be seen if the missed chances would come back to haunt them.

And it seemed, for all intents and purposes as if they had acknowledged that fact, after seeing missed chances come back to haunt them in their previous game, as they came out flying for the second half.

A flick on header by Chang fell to the feet of the goalscorer Williams, who squared up to his defender and got himself goal-side, before taking aim at goal again. He seemed destined for the brace, but McGuire in the Bethlehem goal would deny him as the ball went out for a corner. The set piece was taken by Justin Portillo into a dangerous area, but cleared, only for Maikel Chang to pick up the pieces and get a cross off to the far post and for Attaula Guerra to sting the palms of the ‘keeper again, though the ball would eventually be cleared.

A Bethlehem corner a couple minutes later would be cleared, and the Battery looked to be set for a dangerous counter, only for the move to break down.

Bethlehem forward Seku Conneh would then snap a header  wide after a great cross from the left. The header left Tambakis in goal flat footed, and so the ‘keeper could breathe a sigh of relief that the effort wasn’t on frame.

On the hour mark, a Justin Portillo-led counter eventually fell to Maikel Chang, who had his effort saved only for the ball to spill right back into danger again, with Kotaro Higashi running in, but his effort was scuffed as it seemed that he slipped just slightly as he tried to turn his foot to point the ball on frame.

A minute later, a Justin Portillo corner was kept alive by a little bit of head tennis before falling to Attaula Guerra, who stuck the ball in the net from close range, but was adjudged to be offside. Video Replay was apparently in effect, as the referee would call play dead following the whistle to listen in to his earpiece, but the decision would stand, and the Steel would have a free kick.

A Bethlehem corner would cause a bit of trouble in the box in the 71st, but would only pop out on the edge of the box before being blasted over the bar.

Dante Marini would replace Kotaro Higashi a short while later. The first year winger played well despite missing his chances, applying ample pressure and being an out ball for the central players, but will undoubtedly be disappointed that he didn’t help his side double their lead.

Obi Woodbine would be asked to run onto a dangerous looking chance on 74′, as the full back with the famed cannon of a right foot would just try and guide a ball into the top corner, but the effort would go high and wide.

Heviel Cordoves would replace the goalscorer Williams on 76′. Romario played well, putting his side ahead and putting in a good shift, though had run out of steam in the minutes leading up to the change.

And Cordoves’ first real touches produced a chance for the visitors. He controlled a long ball on the right flank before cutting in and shooting, forcing the goalkeeper into yet another save.

The home side were baying for a penalty in the 84th, when Skylar Thomas would muscle the Steel forward out of the way in order to shield the ball out. The referee was having none of the appeal though, and pointed for a goal kick.

Cordoves was then in again on 84′, but foiled once more as he would muscle his way around his marker and in for a 1-on-1, but his guided finish toward the far post was saved. The ensuing corner would be dummied and fall to the debutant Miles Robinson, but his effort would flash wide of the post.

Into 4 minutes of stoppage time we went, and Bethlehem would have perhaps their best chance of the match, cracking the bar from just inside the box, having beaten a sprawling Tambakis, and the ball would eventually be cleared.

And that was how the game finished. The result meant that the Battery go three points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand over second-placed Tampa Bay after they lost against Rochester on Tuesday.

The Battery next play on Sunday at 2PM against New York Red Bulls II. The match will be televised on MyTV Charleston, and available for streaming on the club’s website, or YouTube.

 

TOP IMAGE: HEVIEL CORDOVES HAS A SHOT IN THE PREVIOUS MEETING BETWEEN THE BATTERY AND STEEL AT MUSC HEALTH STADIUM. CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY

 

 

 

Guerra’s first half strike pushes Battery past Steel

The Charleston Battery remain top in the East after prevailing over the Bethlehem Steel by a score of 1-0.

The goal came courtesy of Attaula Guerra, who bundled home at the back post after a flick on from a Quinton Griffith cross. Both sides had chances to add to the scoring, but the Battery were able to hold on, and after Tampa Bay dropped points against Ottawa earlier, they now sit two points clear at the top of the Eastern Conference.

The Battery made three changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Ottawa, with Dante Marini and Naveal Hackshaw both coming back in after Kotaro Higashi and Tah Brian Anunga had previously had a run of games each. There was also an enforced change in the way of top scorer Romario Williams, who missed the match through illness and would have to be replaced by Heviel Cordoves.

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Cordoves would create a half chance for himself in the tenth minute, as he would surge his way into the box after receiving the ball wide. The striker would make his way into the box with defenders on him, only to get the ball stuck between his feet. He would still find space and time to power a shot toward goal, but it would be deflected by a defender, who by that stage was able to get in front of the effort and reset himself. The ball would then ricochet off the legs of the defender and toward Attaula Guerra, but his effort would then be blocked before the Steel would scramble clear.

Just past the quarter of an hour mark, the visitors were threatening after getting a free kick just about 20 yards out. The referee blew his whistle, and the Steel had apparently decided to try one from the training ground, as there were two men over the ball, with one leaving it, becoming a decoy and running over the ball before it was eventually hit wide, and thus would go out for a goal kick on the near side.

And then, on 18′, the Battery would find the breakthrough. Quinton Griffith would make a great run to the byline before finding room to almost lollipop a cross toward Heviel Cordoves at the near post. The ball was just a bit too high for the striker to get much of an effort on it, but he was able to flick it on, which allowed the oncoming Attaula Guerra to bundle it over the line at the back post and put the hosts ahead.

The goal was Guerra’s third of the campaign as he continues to impress in that role just behind the striker, and was showing that even without his usual partner in crime, he could still find a way to give a meaningful contribution to the team.

The Battery earned a corner just after the half hour mark, which fell in the box and was redirected on goal in the melee only to be blocked away, not once, but twice, before being cleared by the visitors.

And then, the next real chance would then fall to the Steel. Midfielder Marcus Epps would hold the ball up before playing a cheeky little one-two, before finding himself in the box and using strength to separate himself from the defenders before curling a shot toward the far post that looked destined to draw the game level before bouncing just wide.

That’s how we went in at the break. The Battery did deserve the lead, but were left wondering if the other missed chances would come back to haunt them.

The halftime festivities were a treat, with Ricky Garbanzo completing a crossbar challenge, meaning that the Battery would give away $1000 to Keeper of The Wild, this week’s nonprofit of the match.

The match lulled slightly at the beginning of the second half, with a 66th minute Bethlehem free kick only finding its way into the gator pond being the only thing of note early on.

Kotaro Higashi would replace Maikel Chang, and nearly find a way to seal the points for the Black and Yellow on 83′, getting past his man with a bit of trickery, but his cutback with the ball right on the end line found no one crashing in, and the ball was cleared.

This eventually led to a corner for the visitors with six minutes to go, which wasn’t too dissimilar to the Battery’s chance at that end in the first half. The ball would fall to a man and find its way toward goal, and Odisnel Cooper would initially struggle to clear before the play was blown up as the ‘keeper had caught a kick to the stomach.

The Battery had one last chance to add to their tally in stoppage time, when Quinton Griffith went on a signature surging run, finding space and having a pop at goal, but the ball would find its way just over the bar.

After the five added minutes were up, the whistle blew, giving the Black and Yellow the three points, and keeping them top of the Eastern Conference.

The Battery next face St. Louis FC at home on May 13. The match is Military night, meaning that the Battery will wear special Digi-camo tops in honor of those who serve. You can watch the match on MyTV Charleston, or stream it on the club’s website.

TOP IMAGE: GOALSCORER ATTAULA GUERRA SHAPES UP TO STRIKE. PHOTOS COURTESY OF ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY

 

Battery prevail in Charlotte behind second half goals

The Battery took all three points on their travels as they won this season’s first Southern Derby against the Charlotte Independence.

It wasn’t easy, especially given a bit of a slow start for the visitors, who found it difficult to possess the ball in the early goings. The failure to possess led to some early half-chances for Charlotte, but the two sides went in at half time all square. It wasn’t until the second half, and a bit of individual skill from Romario Williams, that the deadlock was broken. The center forward failed to get on the end of a sailing Quinton Griffith cross, but stayed lively in the box as it was passed to him after the ball stayed in on the opposite side. He beat his man with strength and a little swivel before slotting the ball home on the turn.

Shortly after, the Black and Yellow would double their lead, as Attaula Guerra would draw a foul about 25 yards from goal. Justin Portillo would send in a trademark ball to Forrest Lasso, who snapped a header toward goal that was too much for the ‘keeper to handle, even getting a hand to it before the ball would nestle its way into the top corner.

But the game could’ve just as easily gone down a different path. Despite some early nerves, it was the home side who had the better of the opening chances. Alex Tambakis was forced into action after 18 minutes, when Jorge Herrera turned eventual goalscorer Lasso on the edge of the box and forced the goalkeeper into a smart save down to his left at the expense of a corner, but it would be cleared.

Herrera would again be on the end of things on 28′, but this time from a crossing position, when his ball flashed across the six yard box, only to come out the other end and be cleared.

But the Battery couldn’t seem to ease the pressure, when on 34′, Forrest Lasso would have to stretch to clear a cross away with a striker in the middle, though the corner that followed was wasted by the home side.

Lasso would find his head on the ball at the other end three minutes later as he was the target of a free kick, though his effort went wide, and the linesman’s flag went up, meaning it wouldn’t have stood even the chance had gone in.

Romario Williams had what was probably the Battery’s best chance of the first 45 with four minutes left, getting on the end of a great ball on the right side and beating his marker, but clearly had blinders on as he took the shot and skied the effort over the bar, even though he had a man that he could play the ball to on his right. He couldn’t really be begrudged the attempt though, given that he was showing a typical striker’s instinct in that his first thought would be to go for goal. In a derby, and especially the way the game was going, that was a welcome sight, even though the shot was off target, as it meant that the Battery weren’t afraid to have a go given the opportunity.

Having said that, the scores would remain level as we went into half-time, and the Battery still hadn’t created much. They would have to make adjustments during the break if they wanted to gain anything from the match.

And an early second half chance created by Dante Marini and laid off to Naveal Hackshaw would force the Charlotte ‘keeper into a save, and however easy, it signaled a shift in intent that would be crucial as the game went on.

They would build on that early chance when, just a minute later, Romario Williams would latch onto a ball down the line and go one on one at pace with his marker, Bilal Duckett, beating him to the ball whilst being dragged back. There was a slight pull on him outside the box, and then a pull that sent him to the ground inside. The referee would blow the play up after the second pull, but instead of pointing to the spot, he gave the visitors a free kick on the edge of the box, issuing Duckett a yellow card.

Williams and Duckett went at it for the full 90 minutes, Duckett being Charlotte’s captain and an experienced defender against the Battery’s preferred center forward, with pace and strength to boot. However, the Charlotte skipper was lucky not to be in warmer waters than the ref made it out to be, given that the rule pertaining to the situation in question, where a foul starts outside the box and continues into the penalty area, states that a foul beginning outside and continuing into the box should be given as a penalty, and not a free kick in the original spot of the foul, meaning that the referee made the wrong decision.

Regardless, Justin Portillo set the ball up at the left edge of the box in a dangerous area, but would waste the opportunity, hitting the ball into the wall, and the ball deflected off the defenders would be wafted into the box, but to no avail as the ‘keeper would come and punch clear.

But a few minutes later, on 51’, an Attaula Guerra led counter would put the Battery on the attack. He would lay the ball off to Maikel Chang, who would in turn find the overlapping run of Quinton Griffith in a crossing position. Griffith’s cross however, would go begging, a little like the Charlotte chance earlier in the first half.

On 64′, another chance would go untaken as Naveal Hackshaw found himself on the end of a counter on the right edge of the box, before he picked his head up and found Williams at the back stick, but the striker couldn’t get the ball out from under his feet and fluffed his lines.

Two minutes later, the Black and Yellow would almost live to regret the missed opportunity when Yann Ekra, who’s been a thorn in the Battery’s side before, sent a shot bouncing past the far post of Alex Tambakis’ goal. The visitors could thank their lucky stars that Ekra didn’t have his shooting boots on, as he’s more often than not libel to take those types of chances.

But on 70 minutes finally came a breakthrough, and for the visitors, as well as their 30 odd travelling support, it fell the right way.

Quinton Griffith, who had himself a solid game following a little bit of a bumpy preseason, was in a position to cross again from the right. The ball into the box would sail over anybody in a black and yellow shirt in the box, but hold up just enough on the other side for the chance to be recycled. A ball played short to the striker Williams would put him one on one with Duckett once again, and this time Williams would use his strength to shrug his defender off and turn just enough to get room to have a go from about ten yards out, which beat the ‘keeper, putting the Battery in front just before the hour mark, Williams’ individual effort making it a serious contender for goal of the week.

And from the Battery’s next real attack of the match, led by Attaula Guerra from a lung busting counter attack, the Battery would add a little bit of insurance. Guerra’s run would be brought to an end by Bilal Duckett, who injured himself in the process, forcing the Independence to tack on another defensive sub for the one they were already planning. The subs would then be introduced before Justin Portillo would take the controls for the dead ball, but no one was stopping what came next.

Portillo sent an inch perfect ball to Forrest Lasso, who had shrugged off his man and was free in the penalty area, just waiting for the chance to come, and so it did. He connected with the header with a snap of his neck as it found its way toward goal, and though the ‘keeper got a hand to it, it was too powerful for him to keep it out as it found its way into the top corner to put the Battery up 2-0.

The home side didn’t give up after the goal, however, and still were creating through to the final whistle, though their best chance came through Jorge Herrera, who at 36 is still causing problems for defenses at a respectable level. Herrera made his way down the middle of the field as we moved into the 80th minute, and would somehow find his way past three defenders and squirm a shot at goal. It had the ‘keeper, Tambakis, sprawling, but ultimately went wide of the mark.

And that’s how the game finished, with the Battery recording a 2-0 victory against Rivals Charlotte Independence. It was a game of few chances, but the visitors will be glad that they took theirs in a tough game at the very start of the season. The three points mean the travelling Charleston faithful could return home in good spirits as they prepare for the visit of Pittsburgh on the 8th of April. Kick off is at 7PM, and the match can be viewed on MyTV Charleston or at the club’s website.

 

TOP IMAGE: JUSTIN PORTILLO PLAYS IN A CORNER AT MUSC HEALTH STADIUM LAST SEASON. PHOTO CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY

 

 

Lasso, Portillo Power Battery to opening day win

The Charleston Battery got their season off to a successful start after prevailing against FC Cincinnati by a score of 2-1 thanks to goals from Forrest Lasso and Justin Portillo.

Lasso put the Battery in front on 37′ following a bit of a shaky start for the home side, but they finished the first half strong before Djiby Fall drew things level midway through the second half. However, with 20 minutes left, Romario Williams earned a penalty after being brought down following a slick give and go, giving Justin Portillo the chance to step up from 12 yards. His initial shot was saved by Mitch Hildebrand in the Cincy goal, but he did the right thing, following in as the ‘keeper could only parry and putting it away on the rebound.

Despite the scoreline, it was Alex Tambakis who was forced to make the first save of the evening on four minutes, after the visitors orchestrated a chance on the left side of the area through good buildup play, but it was a tame effort and the ‘keeper collected easily.

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The Battery would cause a few questions at the other end a couple minutes later, as a cross from the left played toward the back stick was looking dangerous, but Hildebrand in goal cleaned up as he cut it out before anyone could get on the other end.

Eventual goalscorer Forrest Lasso would put his defense in trouble a minute later though, as he committed a foul about 20 yards from goal. The ensuing free kick looked threatening as Tambakis in goal looked like he got a late jump on it, but was quick across the line to punch away before it was cleared for a throw in.

On 13′, Romario Williams latched onto a long ball flicked on by Naveal Hackshaw as he would go one on one with his defender for just the first of many times on the night. This time he would earn a corner, but it would be cleared by the Cincy defense.

Atlanta United loanee Mikey Ambrose would concede a free kick on the right which gave Cincy the opportunity to put a ball into the box, though Tambakis would collect.

After 21′, Attaula Guerra would force a save out of the Cincinnati ‘keeper as they began to turn the tide following a shaky start.

On 37’ Maikel Chang caused havoc for the Cincy defense as he drifted past three defenders on a run from the right before passing to Dante Marini on the edge of the box. Marini picked his head up and had a pop at goal, which was saved by Hildebrand at the expense of a corner.

Justin Portillo took the set piece from the left, and the in-swinging ball found Forrest Lasso back post, who powered a header into the back of the net.

The goal was the Battery’s first of the season, and, though perhaps a little bit against the run of play, the home side had definitely been coming back into the match following a sleepy start, and they took advantage of their chance to go ahead.

After 42′, the Battery had another corner played in that initially looked dangerous, but this time the visiting defense would smuggle the ball clear.

And that’s how we went into half time. The Battery came out a bit rusty to begin with, but could be pleased with the way they ended the first 45 minutes of the season.

And just a minute into the second half, a ball was played forward, making Romario Williams show a turn of pace as he latched on to it. But he would get inside the box and square up to his man only to slip on the grass as he attempted to cut back onto his left foot and Cincy would take possession looking to begin a counter.

As the Battery would then attempt to clear at the other end, Justin Portillo would slip, allowing a Cincinnati attacker to have a crack as the ball would bobble to him, but Tambakis would have it covered as the effort on the volley went sailing over the bar.

On 49′ a Cincinnati corner was headed down toward goal but blocked by Maikel Chang and cleared, but Williams would give away a free kick, though it would be cleared before it could cause any danger.

After 52 minutes, a Battery free kick from the right was placed with pinpoint precision onto Romario Williams’ head, but the striker put too much power on the header as it went wide.

Four minutes later, Dante Marini found space on the wing, beating his man and cutting inside into the area, but didn’t look up to see a man free on the edge of the box, instead trying to curl a shot into the far post, which went over the bar.

And on 59′, the Battery would pay for their wasted chances, as Andrew Weidemann would place a cross from the right onto the head of Djibi Fall on the back post, which beat Alex Tambakis and drew the scores level.

The goal came as a consequence for not making their chances count, and the travelling Cincinnati fans were loving it.

But Quinton Griffith would cause problems just a minute later after getting on the end of a switch of play and cutting inside, passing off to Maikel Chang, though his shot was saved.

Williams would be a handful again on 63′ after staying onside and beating his man, but just before he could pull the trigger, the defender would make a crunching last ditch challenge to clear the ball for a corner, which went hopelessly over the bar.

After 69′, Attaula Guerra would set up a tasty give and go with Williams, and before he could return the favor to set up an opportunity, he was taken down from behind, which gave the referee no choice but to point to the penalty spot, and Justin Portillo would step up to take.

Aiming for the bottom left corner, he didn’t quite get his bearings on the effort, and Mitch Hildebrand would save, but could only parry and Portillo would make up for his poor effort by following in and finishing into the opposite corner to put the home side back in front.

The home crowd went mad as the smoke bombs went off and Portillo raced over to the fans in E1 to celebrate, as with 20 minutes, all the Battery had to do was hold on, and the three points were in the bag.

The visitors wouldn’t make it easy though, and would push forward more and more to try and find another equalizer.

The set pieces were especially dangerous, as the Battery were more than happy to break up the fluidity of Cincy’s attack, though at the expense of free kicks. After 81′, it was a free kick that made Battery fans sweat as a header looked dangerous, though it went over the bar for a goal kick.

A Cincinnati corner two minutes from time led to a bit of pinball in the box before finally being cleared by the Battery defense, now with everyone behind the ball to prevent the visitors at any cost.

The allotted three minutes added on time at the end seemed to drag on for the home side, but eventually the final whistle blew, giving the Battery all three points in their first match of their silver anniversary season.

The Battery next travel to North Carolina to face the Charlotte Independence on April 1st. You can watch the match on MyTV Charleston, or stream online at the club’s website or on YouTube.

TOP IMAGE: FORREST LASSO RISES BEFORE PUTTING THE BATTERY IN FRONT WITH A HEADER FROM A JUSTIN PORTILLO CORNER. ALL PHOTOS CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY AND NICKI ACE.

 

 

Battery announce full preseason schedule, re-sign two players

It was a busy weekend for the Battery, as they announced their full slate of preseason matches, as well as having re-signed two key players from 2016.

The Battery unveiled the rest of their preseason schedule, having previously announced the schedule for the 2017 USL season, and the Carolina Challenge Cup for mid-February.

The Battery will have games before then, however. Their usual preseason meeting with College of Charleston is scheduled for 2/11, which isn’t even a week away at time of writing. They then face the University of South Carolina on the following Wednesday, 2/15, before the CCC gets underway against Seattle three days later, Columbus on the 22nd, before finishing against Atlanta on the 25th.

They start off the month of March against Coastal Carolina on 3/1. before travelling to North Carolina to play North Carolina FC on 3/4. Clemson away is next on 3/10, before returning home to play the University of North Florida two days later on 3/12. We then finish preseason on 3/15, facing Coastal Carolina again, giving us a ten day break before the new year begins against FC Cincinnati on March 25th.

The second piece of news concerns the team itself, having made two important signings for the new year. Center back Taylor Meuller and winger Dante Marini have re-signed for 2017, giving added experience to the team. Meuller will enter his sixth year with the Black and Yellow, already having notched 114 appearances for the club, winning the award for Defender of the year last season.

Marini is entering his fourth season with the Battery, having made 30 appearances last season, the most of any player, and was part of an attack that scored 38 goals. His pace and direct style of play was very important to that attack, and so signing him to a new deal will no doubt be music to fans’ ears.

These two join a list of players returning that includes Justin Portillo, Maikel Chang, Forrest Lasso, Obi Woodbine, Quinton Griffith, Naveal Hackshaw and Ataulla Guerra as the Battery continue their recent streak of keeping a good core group together for multiple seasons, which is always important when you’re looking to challenge.

The preseason matches, with the exception of the CCC, are free and open to the public, as well as some of them being streamed online. The preseason begins Saturday, February 11th.

TOP IMAGE: TAYLOR MEULLER PLAYS THE BALL OUT OF THE BACK DURING LAST YEAR’S FRIENDLY WITH RANGERS FC. Photo credit ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY.