Monday, June 13, 2011

Gritty Showdown with Harrisburg

Beautiful night @ the 'Baud
So after a long hiatus, I've got several weeks of Battery action to catch up on.  Following a fantastic midweek victory over Richmond, Charleston would host Harrisburg five days later at Blackbaud.  These sides know each other well, and both teams knew what was required to lift the three points.

It was certainly a fine evening for football, however, our boys began the match on a less than picturesque note.  It took only six minutes for the City Islanders to find the net.  Some careless defending saw a fine cross headed by forward Angulo past an embarrassed Charleston back line and into the goal.  To their credit, the our low country boys showed spirit and pressed the attack with impatience.  It nearly payed off as the Battery midfield were able to produce of number of near-misses and threatening shots.  Sadly, halftime came and went leaving Harrisburg still one goal to the good.  Tensions between the two sides had been building from the early stages of the match and the play became quite scrappy.  This tension came to a head in the 60th minute after a collision between Dane Kelly and GK Chase Harrison.  Tempers got the best of both sides and I'm convinced the referees were fairly oblivious to what had taken place.  A series of scuffles led to the ejection of Basso (Harrisburg) and Kelly.  The entire incident was shrouded in controversy and the calls made were confusing at best.  However, the important fact is that the result of the madness was a penalty kick awarded to Charleston.  Stephen Armstrong converted effortlessly, and at ten men a side, the Battery had something to fight for.  Auggie made attack-minded substitutions and with about twenty minutes left in regulation, the game began to heat up.  Seedy Bah was electric from the moment he took the pitch.  The build up play for Charleston was something to admire but it still lacked venom in the final third.  The winner would come three minutes from regulation as persistence (and an undermanned pitch) paid off as Seedy Bah fed Nicki Patterson who blasted a shot into the corner of the net.  With precious few minutes to spare, it was advantage Charleston and an already frustrated Harrisburg saw another booking and were reduced to nine on-field.

 Although it was a far cry from the "beautiful game",  the Battery saw it through, weathered the storm, and came out the victors.  This was never billed as a crucial fixture for either side, but it was an important win nonetheless.  The gritty, imperfect struggles are often the ones that forge a solid team that will last the campaign and make a good challenge for the title.
Post-game celebration with family

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