Resilient Battery take three points from Rochester

The Charleston Battery would leave it late, but an 84th minute free kick would be the difference in a hard fought battle with the Rochester Rhinos on Saturday.

There were changes made from last week’s draw against New York, as Quinton Griffith would return from injury, and Miles Robinson would partner Taylor Meuller as the center backs. while Skylar Thomas would slot in on the left for the suspended Obi Woodbine, and the same could be said for Naveal Hackshaw, who would accompany the goalscorer Justin Portillo in midfield, replacing Tah Brian Anunga, after he had accumulated five yellow cards.

A Rochester free kick in the fifth minute looked to be dangerous, but it was cleared away by the defense as the counter looked to be on, though it would eventually break down.

Some good buildup would find Romario Williams shortly after, whose reverse ball looking for Maikel Chang was just a little too strong and the ‘keeper would claim.

On 15′ Rochester would earn a corner, only to be cleared and come back in. The second clearance fell to the feet of Wal Fall at the edge of the box, but the shot was wide of the target.

On 25’, Darius Madison would shoot toward goal for the hosts, but Odisnel Cooper would save to his left as the shot lacked conviction with the striker going away from goal.

Shortly after, Romario Williams would be booked for the fifth time this season, meaning he would be unavailable for the match next week against Richmond.

On the half hour mark, Cooper would be forced into another save, when a cross from Michael Garzi found Jalen Brown, but his mishit shot was handled by the ‘keeper

Six minutes later came the Battery’s best chance of the first half, when Williams would latch onto a ball and play Kotaro Higashi in the middle. He couldn’t control the pass, which gave the defender time to get set and block the eventual shot. Higashi would pick up the rebound and pass back to Williams, but the control before the pass was given as a handball.

Then, on 38′, a long ball forward would beat Taylor Meuller and give Jalen Brown a chance for the home side, only for Cooper in the Battery goal to be equal to the effort.

On the stroke of half-time, Williams had a great chance to put his side in front when he connected with a cross at the front post, which he couldn’t quite redirect on frame as it went wide.

And that meant the teams would go in at the break deadlocked. The game took a little while to get going, but arguably, neither team may have wanted the interval to come, what with both sides creating chances late on in the half.

On the other side of the break, a Skylar Thomas cross would lead to a corner inside the first five minutes, but nothing would come of it.

Just before the hour mark came the next chance for the Battery, as a quickly taken free kick was played out to Maikel Chang and then into the feet of Romario Williams, who toe-poked the ball toward goal and looked for all the world to have broken the deadlock, only to have it cleared off the line.

On 62′ came a mixup in the box as two defenders for the Battery got succed in, and the ensuing shot was deflected behind for a corner, that was then cleared for a throw.

On 67′, the visitors made their first sub. Jarad van Schaik would replace Kotaro Higashi, who had that great chance in the first half that should’ve been buried, and he would hope his side wouldn’t rue the missed chance.

Rochester looked to pick it up at about the 70th minute mark, as they were still in the game after sitting back for large stretches, creating from corners and looking to put Cooper under pressure, but the defense stood firm.

And then, with six minutes left, came a good chance for the Battery at the other end.

A clumsy foul on the left corner of the box had Justin Portillo at the controls, with the big men coming up from the back. Portillo then used the big bodies as a decoy, playing the ball in low along the floor and past the goalkeeper, who was unsighted by the mass of bodies for the opening goal.

It’s not certain whether Portillo meant for the ball to go straight in or meant for it to take a nick off the attacker from a redirection, but they all count, and the Battery had a lead to defend going into the last five minutes.

It was kitchen sink time for the home side, though, and with four minutes of added on time, the Rhinos had time enough if they could find the good areas. Miles Robinson was in the way to plug up a passing lane before a cross could come in on the stroke of 90′, but the goal kick would go straight back to the home side.

And on 91′, Cooper didn’t claim a cross that he came out for, which gave the home side a great chance through Jalen Brown that looked destined to level it again, only for the captain Taylor Meuller to clear off the line.

The Battery then barely had time to catch their breath before Cooper had to make a reflex save to deny Brown from close range, but he wasn’t able to hold the ball, although Graf put the rebound over the bar.

The last chance came by way of corner in the 94th minute, but the Battery defense stood firm to clear.

And shortly after came the final whistle. The Battery won their first game in their last seven since July 1st, and their first win at Rochester since 2012.

Tbe Battery next face the Richmond Kickers on Saturday, August 26 at 7PM. You can watch it on MyTV Charleston or stream it on the club’s website.

 

TOP IMAGE: ODISNEL COOPER, PICTURED HERE IN A PREVIOUS GAME AGAINST THE RHINOS, MADE A NUMBER OF IMPORTANT SAVES ON THE WAY TO A HARD FOUGHT THREE POINTS. ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO.

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Battery pegged back by Louisville in 8 goal Thriller

The Charleston Battery drew with Louisville City FC on Saturday night sharing the points in a 4-4 goalfest. The Battery took three two-goal leads at different points in the evening, but lady luck would show its hand against the Battery throughout the night, as two goals off of wicked deflections and an OG from Forrest Lasso gave Louisville a way back into the match at different points, while Brian Ownby would play a part in what was, from a visiting perspective, a great fight back.

It was a now almost regular starting XI for the Black and Yellow, who were a part of MUSC Health Stadium’s second live match of the evening, after WPSL side the Charleston Fleet would win their inaugural game, defeating the Carolina Rapids by a score of 1-0.

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Odisnel Cooper kept his place in goal, while Skylar Thomas was in for regular starter Quinton Griffith, while Forrest Lasso and Taylor Meuller were the center backs, alongside Obi Woodbine at right back. Justin Portillo and Tah Brian Anunga continued in front of the back four, while Maikel Chang and Kotaro Higashi were on the flanks. The only other change being Heviel Cordoves under Romario Williams up front, after Williams’ usual strike partner, Attaula Guerra was out through a groin problem picked up in the Battery’s 1-0 win over Jacksonville in the US Open Cup.

An early foul gave the visitors a chance in the first minute, but while the free kick looked dangerous, it went straight into the wall.

Louisville continued to pile on the pressure early, as they sent the ball across from the right and forced Cooper to punch the ball away to avoid danger.

But the tables would quickly turn, as Kotaro Higashi would receive a long ball on the left flank before squaring up to his marker and moving the ball inside, dribbling into the box. He would then get some space, looking all the while like he was angling to take aim at goal, before lifting his head up and finding the striker Williams, who, though given a tight angle, would round the goalkeeper and shoot. The effort found its way on target, and despite the best efforts of an on-rushing defender, the ball would squeeze all the way over the line, giving the hosts a 1-0 lead.

The score was perhaps flattering given Louisville’s fast start, but despite the better of possession, only forced the defense to clear just that once before the opener.

It was in the 23rd minute that Louisville would have another dangerous looking free kick, but it would again be blocked by the wall and cleared away.

With just over a half an hour gone, the Battery doubled their lead. Romario Williams was in again, and this time would produce something special. He would receive the ball in midfield and drive at the defense, before doing a cheeky little step-over and winding up from a good 25 yards out. The shot was too powerful for the Louisville ‘keeper and found its way into the back of the net for 2-0.

But the visitors would find a way back into it, and perhaps at the worst possible time for the Battery, right before half time.

A Louisville corner from the right would curl in and then be cleared, though Louisville would reset and look for a ball back in. The cross initially looked flat, but took a wicked deflection and found its way past a sprawling Odisnel Cooper, who was at the near post keeping track of the cross, and though he made his best effort, couldn’t quite get across to keep the ball out.

Though the Black and Yellow went in at half time a goal up, the Louisville goal just before the break would put a seed of doubt in the home team’s mind, and it would be up to them to renew their two goal advantage in the second half.

It wouldn’t take long. Kotaro Higashi found himself at the top of the box on 48’ before laying off to Maikel Chang, who was unlucky not to find space to take aim at goal, but was able to complete a 1-2 with Higashi before receiving the ball again, this time creating a window to shoot before firing past the ‘keeper.

Now at 3-1, the Battery looked to go for the jugular. Chang would trick past his man on the right and play the ball in the box just two minutes later, but it was cleared before it could find its way toward Cordoves in the box.

But then, on the hour mark, Louisville would give themselves another lifeline, after George Davis IV would find himself at the top of the box with space for a shot, and once again, a defender would get his body in the way, though the deflection would only force the ball toward goal and past Cooper for 3-2.

The Battery didn’t at all look dazed by the scoreline, but would have to keep their heads if they were going to hold on.

Three minutes later, the home side found themselves in another dangerous position, as a corner was flicked on at the front post, though no one was there to finish, and the chance would go begging.

Skylar Thomas would pick up an injury and eventually would have to be replaced in the 71st by Quniton Griffith. A change at the back isn’t something that you would like to happen, as it can sometimes mess with the chemistry of the backline, especially at this stage of the game, but given the injury, it was needs must for the Battery.

But two minutes later, the Battery would find their two goal lead once again restored. Obi Woodbine would find the ball after some great buildup and possession on the left before he would run all the way to the byline and pull the ball back for a wide open Ricky Garbanzo, who would convert a tap-in for the Battery’s 4th.

Garbanzo doesn’t score many, and you could see how much the goal meant to him as he celebrated along the touchline in the hopes that he’d put the Battery on the game beyond the visitors.

But still, Louisville weren’t out of it. Bryan Ownby would go on a mazy run through the middle, and wouldn’t be closed down, taking a shot from the right side of the box which gave Odisnel Cooper no chance, once again giving Louisville a way back.

And with nine minutes left, hearts would sink. It started with a Battery corner that was bundled clear, and suddenly Louisville would find themselves on the break. The ball was crossed into the front post, which Forrest Lasso would stick a leg out to clear, but he was unable to get any air on the clearance as it would trickle off his foot and into the goal.

It was unlucky for the Battery, who after going two goals up on three occasions, thought they had the game under control, only for it to finally slip at the last.

And yet, it could’ve gotten worse. A cross from the right went all the way through and seemed to have only required a touch for the visitors to find themselves in front with what could’ve been the last attack of the day, but went out for a goal kick.

And that was the way it ended. The Battery were sure to find themselves speechless at the way the game had transpired, but from a certain point of view, were quite unlucky. Two of the goals conceded were from deflections that left Odisnel Cooper helpless, and another was an own goal. Some would find those instances to be avoidable, yet you would expect every player to be prepared to put their body on the line to avoid danger, even if the results had consequences.

The next match is against Richmond at home on June 10th. You can watch the Match on MyTV Charleston or stream online at the club’s website.

TOP IMAGE: KOTARO HIGASHI, WHO EARNED TWO ASSISTS, ONE IN EACH HALF, ON SATURDAY NIGHT, STRIDES AWAY FROM A MARKER EARLY ON. ALL PHOTOS CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY AND ZACH BLAND

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.

Battery put counter to good use in win over Red Bulls

In a match where neither team was ever out of the contest, it was the Charleston Battery who prevailed against New York Red Bulls II, earning a big three points to start a tough road trip.

The Battery put themselves into a bit of trouble early on, when defender Shawn Ferguson misplaced a pass that was intercepted high in midfield by the Red Bulls, and in one pass, Anatole Abang was through on goal, but Alex Tambakis came and closed the angle, giving the striker little space to shoot before the ball was eventually parried by the ‘keeper and cleared.

But from danger at one end to a breakthrough at the other, as Obi Woodbine would take a throw-in high up the pitch for the visitors. Woodbine, dangerous with his long throw-ins, which often turn out to be more of a set piece, found Maikel Chang at the front post, whose header found the upper 90 to give the Battery the early 1-0 lead.

Chang is someone who often is the provider than the one who finishes the chances, but the Battery had an early goal to defend, and with the amount of solid frontmen for the Red Bulls, they would have to be on their game.

But Romario Williams was on the other end of a long ball in the 11th minute, fighting his way to the byline before pulling the ball back before the cross was cleared, giving Woodbine another chance to launch one into the box, but this time the ball was cleared at the front post as the Red Bulls had apparently learned their lesson.

Three minutes later. there was more danger for the Battery, as the Red Bulls had a corner, which went all the way through and dropped othe right edge of the six, but it was scuffled away by the Battery and up the pitch.

The Red Bulls had some chances down the right side as a cross in on 24′ went out for a corner, but the set piece came to nothing as it was eventually cleared.

Obi Woodbine would continue his impressive showing when he found space in the middle on 29′, threading an inch perfect through ball to Romario Williams. The through ball left Williams with only one thing left to do, and he picked his spot into the bottom corner to double the Battery’s lead. The frontman is certainly glad to have rediscovered his scoring touch in recent weeks, having gone through a somewhat barren spell, and will hope it continues with a tough couple of games coming up for the boys in Black and Yellow.

On 36′ the Red Bulls threatened again through Abang, who latched on to a through ball and eventually fired a shot at the near post, but the effort found only the side netting and the Battery’s lead remained at two.

A great run by Williams sent up Chang for the Battery a couple minutes later, but his shot aimed for the far corner was saved well by the Red Bulls ‘keeper to keep his side in the game.

In first half stoppage time, it was again Abang who was knocking at the door, but his shot went over the bar after a deflection. The ensuing corner was taken short and crossed in at the second attempt, and though a Red Bulls head rose to meet it, the shot sailed over the bar and the half time whistle blew.

And though you could probably say the home side were the better team in the first half, it was the Battery in front, though with the way they were attacking, the hosts were by no means out of it, and would surely be out to prove that in the second half.

And prove it they did. A ball from midfield ten minutes into the second half found a man free on the right edge of the box as it looked as though the Battery were trying to catch the hosts in an offside trap, but it failed as Stefano Bonomo connected with a cross, sliding in and pulling one back for the home side.

It was quite deserved for the home side, and put the Battery on the back foot after coming out and attacking themselves at the start of the second half before the Red Bulls would fashion that first real chance in the second half. It gave the Red Bulls a shot in the arm, and left the Battery a bit shocked.

And the Red Bulls would be level just five minutes after. A Red Bulls corner on that hour mark would be cleared, but only for another, eventually taking a third attempt before anything came of it. The ball was recycled back to Kevin O’Toole, who put in a cross deep into the Battery box looking for someone to head it along. The header never came, and the ball instead bounced. The goalkeeper Tambakis was also expecting the header, and was caught unawares by the bounce, giving the Red Bulls a slightly bizarre equalizer as the score was 2-2.

And so, within 15 minutes of the second half, the Battery’s two goal lead had been erased, which shows you how quickly a game can change. And there was still thirty minutes left for either side to put their stamp on the game.

And thankfully, it was the Battery. The equalizer had prompted a substitution, with Heviel Cordoves coming on in place of Romario Williams. It didn’t take long for the striker to get involved, when Maikel Chang played an inch perfect ball from the left flank low and hard into the penalty area, and Cordoves, getting there ahead of his center-back and shooting first time, leaving the ‘keeper flat footed and putting the visitors back in front.

But that wasn’t the end of the story for the Red Bulls either, when Tambakis was forced into a great save with just about a quarter of an hour to go from an effort on the left that was curling into the opposite corner. Tambakis did well to get down to meet the attempt through a crowd of bodies and parry it away before it was cleared.

But a worrying moment for Quinton Griffith came with five minutes of normal time left, as he collided with Anatole Abang while going up for a header. The ball went out for a corner to the hosts, but both players came down and collided with the goal. Griffith came off worse for wear, and had to be stretchered off. The corner however, was no danger as it went over the bar.

In the 97th minute, the Red Bulls had their best chance to pull something out of it late on, when the ball popped out at the top of the box, but Taylor Meuller got in the way of the effort, taking it full in the face and deflecting the ball away.

And in the Red Bulls’ haste to get back into it, there was an off the ball incident involving Shawn Ferguson for the Battery and Red Bulls’ goalscorer Stefano Bonomo, which led to the latter being sent off, as the hosts ended the match with 10 men.

And that’s the way it stayed, after a full 13 minutes of added on time due to a water break and the Griffith injury. The performance wasn’t perhaps the best for the Battery, but the defense stood strong, and clinical finishing is what got the boys in Black and Yellow over the line.

The three points was crucial, going into a hostile atmosphere in Cincinnati, with that game coming next Saturday. Kick Off is at 7PM.

TOP IMAGE: TODAY’S GAME WINNER HEVIEL CORDOVES SQUARES UP AGAINST AN FC CINCINNATI DEFENDER IN THE FIRST MATCH OF THE SEASON. PHOTO CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY.

 

 

Early goals hand Battery win against Richmond

A pair of goals from Taylor Meuller and Heviel Cordoves gave the Charleston Battery three points against rivals Richmond Kickers Saturday night in what proved to be another dominant performance. It was an important win for the Black and Yellow, putting them in 4th place in the East, a point behind FC Cincinnatti, and 5 behind first place Louisville.

The Battery got off to an early start, creating a few good opportunities before earning a corner in the 13th minute after some good work by Obi Woodbine, using his speed to get to the byline before his cross was cleared, but the ensuing corner led to naught.

Richmond’s ‘keeper, Charlie Horton had to be on his toes, as Ricky Garbanzo played in a good looking ball toward Romario Williams, almost connecting before Horton came to gather and snuff out the danger.

Zach Prince would then play Garbanzo through on 20 minutes, but once again, the ‘keeper was there to smother. The Battery were creating well, but needed to capitalize before Richmond came into the game.

There was certainly a moment of worry after 27 minutes, when leading goalscorer Romario Williams, who had already been on the pace so far, would have to be substituted due to an apparent muscle injury by Heviel Cordoves. Cordoves isn’t easy to deal with in his own right, however, and he would make his presence felt.

Maikel Chang took a shot from long range after finding space about 20 yards from goal just before the half hour mark, but Horton would be on his toes, denying the Battery playmaker an excellent goal.

This time, however, the corner would be much better, as Justin Portillo served from the right. The ball was played in to center back Taylor Mueller, who glanced a header toward goal at the front post which went across the face of goal and in to give the Battery a 1-0 lead. Mueller’s no stranger to scoring goals, having done so on numerous occasions, and likes to pop up in derbies, especially. This was just the beginning of what turned out to be a man of the match performance.

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And it wasn’t long before the Battery doubled their lead. Some great build up play on 39′ and an excellent array of passes eventually led to Obi Woodbine being the out ball on the left hand side. The full back played an excellent ball and the substitute Cordoves would rise highest, dispatching the ball into the top corner as it was impossible to reach and the home side were up 2-0.

On the stroke of half time, Richmond had a pair of corners that looked troublesome, but the ball was eventually collected by Alex Tambakis in goal for the Battery.

The home side deserved the lead, after spending a lot of the first half with the ball, while also creating a few chances to maybe even further their lead going into the break.

It was all change for Richmond at half time, however. They made four subs at the break, clearly unhappy with what had transpired in the first 45.

A ball through on the other side of half time nearly created a mix-up between Tambakis and center-half Mueller at the back, but the ball was collected by the goalkeeper and no harm was done.

A deft flick at the other end by Maikel Chang nearly put Cordoves in for a chance to double his tally, but the striker was given offside as the ball was played into him.

Richmond then could have pulled one back through Yudai Imura, who connected with a cross and sent a volley toward goal, but Meuller did well, getting his body in front of the effort which hit the post after the deflection.

Just past the hour mark, the Battery were again unlucky to not have extra insurance, as a curling free kick from Justin Portillo was just inches from finding the back of the net, hitting the bar as the scoreline remained 2-0.

After 68′, there were appeals for a penalty after Ricky Garbanzo went down in the box. There looked to be an outstretched arm from the defender which came across Garbanzo, but the referee waved play on.

A Richmond free kick from the right side went wide after having a crack from a the weird angle with 15 minutes left, when there was four Richmond players in the area.

Dante Marini came on for Ricky Garbanzo shortly after, but was only on for a few minutes after a challenge just beyond midfield had the referee reaching for his back pocket to produce the red card. Marini may feel a little hard done by, given that the challenge was his first and he stayed on his feet. Nevertheless, the home side would play the remainder of the match with ten men, and Marini will miss the next game against Louisville in Kentucky next week.

Maikel Chang came off on 82′ to be replaced by Emmanuel Adjetey. The full back would cameo on the wing for the remaining eight minutes, making his mark with a nifty little run and move to beat a defender with his first few touches on the ball, before being fouled in a bit of a dangerous area. This led to howls from the home fans, who believed that challenge to be worse than the one that Marini had previously gotten his marching orders for.

In the subsequent stoppage, Heviel Cordoves came off to be replaced by Chris Tsonis. Cordoves, of course, scoring the second goal of the evening, put in a decent shift in relief of the injured Williams, and showed that he provides a little something different, as well as depth for the Battery up front.

Yudai Imura’s shot in stoppage time was closer to the corner flag than the goal, as the whistle blew soon after, giving the Battery the three points before their high profile friendly with Scottish giants Rangers FC on Wednesday.

In addition to the Rangers friendly in midweek, the Battery will return to league play as they travel to Louisville City FC on Saturday, July 9th.

TOP IMAGE: TAYLOR MUELLER CELEBRATES WITH HIS TEAMMATES AFTER GLANCING HOME THE BATTERY’S OPENING GOAL. ALL PHOTO CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY

 

 

 

Portillo pen edges Battery past Islanders

Justin Portillo‘s late spot kick took the Battery past the visiting City Islanders on Saturday night. It was a match that had little in terms of chances, but ebbed and flowed at times, with both teams probably wanting a bit more from the night, but the Battery claimed all three points, lifting them out of a bit of a slump.

The Battery took the slump as an opportunity to make a few changes and rest some players, and it was Chris Tsonis who got the start in place of Romario Williams, while Shawn Ferguson was back beside Taylor Mueller in the center of defense, and Alex Tambakis was in between the sticks, giving Odisnel Cooper the night off.

It was Tsonis that got things going early on for the Battery, and he had the ball in the net on nine minutes, but he needed to time his run better, as he was called offside. The finish was one of convenience for the ‘keeper more than anything, and the scores would stay 0-0.

A run up the touchline for the Battery on 12 minutes would eventually find its way to Maikel Chang, who, with Dante Marini and Zach Prince taking up the wings for the home side, found himself more central at times tonight, beside Attaulah Guerra in midfield or behind the striker, Tsonis. But Chang’s effort after receiving the pass from the right lacked power, and was saved easily.

The Islanders found themselves with a chance only a few minutes later, when a cross Shawn McLaws from the left was fired by Paul Williams toward Alex Tambakis in goal, but it, like Chang’s effort before, lacked power.

The visitors had a lot of possession in the opening half, getting into good positions, but also not really troubling the defense that much either. Shawn Ferguson showed his class on a few occasions, impressing on his return from injury, while beside him, Taylor Mueller marshalled well as the two kept things organized and compact.

The first real chance in earnest did fall to the Islanders, though, on a free kick in the 35th that was whipped straight at Tambakis, in a position that many thought would probably lead to a cross, and the bend made things a bit awkward for the goalie on the near post, but he did well to punch the ball away as he was diving sort of into his own net to keep the ball out, and the ball was eventually cleared.

But it seemed as if the Battery did eventually turn the screw a little bit and find another level, their first chance coming from some fancy skills in and around the box with a few volleyed passes, and the ball fell to Attaulah Guerra, whose attempted chip just had a little too much power, and went over the bar. The move certainly did deserve a goal, but it wasn’t happening for the home side at that moment.

With 41 minutes gone, it was Chang and Portillo linking up at the edge of the area, as Chang did well to fashion some space, but only had the lay off to Portillo on, as the ball didn’t sit right for him. Chang found his midfield partner, and Portillo curled one that was destined for the upper 90, but his attempt was foiled by a certain contender for the USL’s Save of the Week by Nick Noble in goal for the visitors.

That’s the way the first half ended, with the Islanders perhaps the better team for the opening half hour, but the Battery did come into it a little more as the half came to a close, and probably went in the better of the two sides.

After another sluggish start to the second half, Tsonis was replaced by Romario Williams, the Battery’s top scorer, who started the night on the bench, probably in the hopes that the home side would be able to give him a rest. Tsonis didn’t have the worst game, but the service was lacking, and as the match wore on, it became apparent the Battery needed someone who could create his own chances.

Just past the hour mark, Obrien Woodbine would go into the book after giving away a foul on the left wing, the free kick didn’t lead to anything, however, and the chance was gone.

It was then Woodbine a bit later with a nice ball played through for Williams, who latched on, but the angle for a shot was always against him. The striker went with power toward the far post with the shot, aiming for the roof of the net, but the ball sailed high.

Another sub, Emmanuel Adjetey, would have his part to play in the final say of things, though. Coming on for Guerra, he did well to quickly put his pace to good use, and with eight minutes to go, created what would be a turning point.

He was played through after a layoff by Romario Williams, running into the box, toward the byline, and probably had an angle to shoot from, with the onrushing goalkeeper closing in. But Adjetey would just squeeze the ball past Noble, who kept coming and collided with the man. The referee pointed to the spot as a penalty was given, giving the Battery the chance to take the lead late on.

The penalty was coolly dispatched by Justin Portillo, who gave the ‘keeper the eyes, waiting for him to commit before slotting past him into the bottom corner.

Adjetey was at it again with two minutes to go, getting free and leading a counter at pace and playing Ricky Garbanzo through, who sent the ball back across, but the ball wasn’t controlled properly, and fell back to Garbanzo in an offside position.

The visitors would make it a bit nervy near the end, which would come from a ball that the Battery will say they should have cleared first time, after a layoff at the edge of the area. The initial shot lacked power, but the ball wasn’t cleared as it rolled inside the box, the Battery scrambled around for a moment before a defender put his foot through it, and the referee blew for full time.

So, the three points snapped a two game home losing streak, which was in stark contrast to the 29 game winning streak the Battery had previously on their home patch.The next game is on Sunday, June 26, as the Battery travel to Canada to take on Toronto FC II

TOP IMAGE: JUSTIN PORTILLO’S CALM CELEBRATION MATCHES HIS MATCH-WINNING PENALTY. VIN DUFFY PHOTO

 

 

 

 

Battery hold on to win in Pittsburgh

The Charleston Battery staved off the Pittsburgh Riverhounds behind a pair of first half goals. Obi Woodbine converted a penalty that he earned before Taylor Meuller volleyed home a few minutes later to double the lead, while a second half screamer from the home side made things a bit testy, but the Black and Yellow held on to earn a hard fought three points.

Regular starters for the Battery such as Shawn Ferguson and Justin Portillo began the game on the bench for the visitors after playing in midweek, while Taylor Meuller and Forrest Lasso were in the center of defense. Attaulah Guerra and Naveal Hackshaw would earn their first start together in midfield. It was Alex Tambakis in goal for the Battery, whilst Heviel Cordoves was the man up front, deputizing for the suspended Romario Williams.

The home side would have the better of possession in the early goings, but the Battery would slowly but surely come into it. Heviel Cordoves went up for a header off a cross after 17 minutes but it was saved by the ‘keeper.

Midfielder Stephen Okai would set up a great chance for Pittsburgh shortly afterward, as his low cross was flicked by Kevin Kerr onto Corey Hertzog, whose scissor kick effort went straight to Alex Tambakis.

On 26, Heviel Cordoves did well to win the ball back in midfield and played Attaulah Guerra in a dangerous position, but the midfielder looked to his right and saw Zach Prince on the overlap and dummied him as Prince had a pop at goal, but his effort went wide.

A minute or so later, Pittsburgh could’ve had a penalty. A long ball was played forward to Hertzog, who latched on, with Taylor Meuller at his back. Hertzog shot wide, but was having his shirt pulled in the process, and the Battery just might have gotten away with one.

Defender Jordan Murrell for the Riverhounds got the ball through in a dangerous position on the left edge of the penalty area, before squaring back to Hertzog, who took a touch to get away from his man and shot, but the ball was deflected, and hit Murrell, who was still on the edge of the box in an offside position, and the flag went up.

Then, just a few seconds after Pittsburgh had the chance, Obrien Woodbine went up the touchline on the right, made a move to get around the aforementioned Murrell, and went down in the box as the defender fouled him. The referee pointed to the spot, and the penalty was given.

It was a bit cruel, perhaps, on the home side, given their shout for an earlier spot kick. But it was Woodbine to step up to the spot and take. Normally, they say a player should never take a penalty which he’s earned, but Woodbine put the penalty away coolly to give the Battery the lead.

Four minutes from time, Lebo Moloto went at the Battery defense and eventually got a shot off, forcing Tambakis into a save.

And on 43′, the Battery would double their lead. It came from a free kick played in from about halfway into the attacking half by Maikel Chang, which was knocked down at the back stick, before Taylor Meuller got a foot to it and sent a volleyed effort past a sprawling Mauricio Vargas in Pittsburgh’s goal.

And that was the scoreline as we went into half time. It was, again, perhaps a little harsh on Pittsburgh, who should’ve had a penalty, but after a shaky start from the visitors, the Battery had come into the game a lot more and took their goals well, and ended the half the better side.

Dante Marini came on for Maikel Chang at half time, and fashioned the Battery’s first chance of the second half. He was played down the line by Ricky Garbanzo before tricking his way past his man and firing a shot toward goal, but the effort was saved.

But on 52′, the Riverhounds had a lifeline. The ball popped out to Rob Vincent, who was given time and space, and fired a speculative effort toward goal from all of 30 yards. The ball made its way through a crowd of bodies, which may have meant that Tambakis saw it late, but it arrowed into the bottom corner to make the score 2-1 and reduce the deficit.

The home side understandably threw a bit more at the Black and Yellow after that, and quickly fashioned another chance. A Cross by Kevin Kerr toward Corey Hertzog at the back post would have to be smothered by Tambakis who came quickly off his line, and the ball was cleared.

Heviel Cordoves would come off on 62′, to be replaced by Chris Tsonis for the Battery. Cordoves put in a pretty good shift, earning a well deserved rest, and Tsonis gave yet another attacking option to the visitors.

A 65th minute corner looked dangerous, but would be collected by Tambakis with not much fuss. However, the Riverhounds were coming into it a little bit more, and the Battery would have to turn the screw a little.

Chris Tsonis was booked for a foul only a few minutes after coming on after he grabbed ahold of a Pittsburgh midfield while trying to stop a counter, but nothing much led to the opportunity. Garbanzo was also booked a couple minutes later, meaning both strikers would have to be on their best behavior.

On 76 came the Battery’s best chance of the second half. Zach Prince would play a tasty ball with the outside of his foot on the edge of the box to Ricky Garbanzo, who spotted the ‘keeper a little bit off his line and let fly a speculative chip toward goal, which dipped at the last minute and forced the goalkeeper into a sprawling effort, and he saved with his left hand.

Naveal Hackshaw would have to be replaced due to injury by Shawn Ferguson with nine minutes left. Hackshaw had been down a few times in the game before that, and it looked as if the game had gotten to him.

Attaulah Guerra would then be replaced after he went down holding the back of his leg by Jose Nazereno with just a few minutes to go. With Guerra just coming back from injury, Battery fans will hope that his injury wasn’t serious as it looked as if he was grabbing his groin or hamstring area.

Into five minutes stoppage time, Nazereno’s pace would cause a problem for defender Sergio Cambpell, who brought him down on the edge of the box. Campbell was the last man back for Pittsburgh, and the referee adjudged him to have denied the striker a goalscoring opportunity, sending the defender off.

And with Pittsburgh down to ten men, the match played out to its conclusion, giving the Battery a hard fought three points.

The Battery’s next match is against Orlando City B on June 11th, with kick off at 7:30 at MUSC Health Stadium.

TOP IMAGE: Pittsburgh’s ‘keeper Hunter Gilstrap wins a ball in the first meeting of the year between the Battery and Riverhounds. Ross Almers Photography photo