The Battery maintained their perfect road form with a gritty win Saturday, coming on the heels of last Thursday's 3-1 win at Pittsburgh. The match was less than beautiful as a flurry of yellow cards and needless fouls marred the closing stages of the game. Despite their league record, the Dutch Lions showcased some real quality and the three hard won points gained in Ohio will prove vital in Charleston's ascent in the USLPRO table.
The first half truly belonged to Dayton but lacking quality in the finish, the Dutch Lions were unable to make the most of their possession. Charleston also had several chances early and tended to play up to Ryan Richter down the right flank. Amadou Sanyang had an impressive game for the Battery, battling hard in the midfield and digging in for some physical tackles. The Lions first chance came at seven minutes with a strong corner crossed in the box but there was no one on the other end of the ball.
Both sides looked sharp on the attack and the Battery managed some great buildup working the length of the pitch. Charleston popped a weak shot on goal and Dayton countered with intensity. Forcing a stretch from Dykstra, their shot zipped just over the crossbar. The Battery then earned a free kick but the Lions implemented a speedy counter yet again. Dayton was awarded another corner, but the Battery defense held firm. The Lions were very aggressive in the attacking third, forcing another save from Dykstra. Shortly afterwards, the ball pinged around dangerously inside the box before being collected by Dykstra, ending another scary spell for the Charleston back line. And although Dayton controlled the tempo of the match, Sanyang and a rugged Battery defense kept the scoreboard expressionless.
As the momentum began to shift, Navion Boyd ignited a drive leaving defenders in his wake. His run was cut short by a bad foul and the Dayton man was given a yellow card...the first of many on the evening. Charleston had several long range free kicks in the first half of play. The Lions responded but fluffed a chance on an open net and then buried the rebound into the side netting. Ceuvas linked up with Cody Ellison but the defender's header was off target. Bundu was afforded the best opportunity for Charleston in the first with a nice, low shot, but the Lion's netminder picked his spot and smothered the attempt. As the ping-pong style persisted, Dayton shirked another fine scoring chance with Charleston's keeper beaten but the shot sailed wide. Another series of Charleston free kicks and the first half ended, just as it had begun.
Charleston fired a shot from distance seconds after the restart, but the effort had no punch and no effect.
The Battery mounted some good pressure, as Mike Iriza initiated some good runs. Much like the previous half, both sides took turns on the offensive but the pace was far more relaxed. Charleston opted to play the longball and Dayton's Matt Williams whiffed a clearance leaving Bundu alone with the goalie. The shot was wide but a goal was in the making. Another poor kick from Williams allowed Richter to slash a quick throw-in. Kelly broke down the line and cut back for Jose Cuevas in the seventy-second minute. With nearly no angle, Cuevas nicked the far post with a tricky shot and found the net to give the Battery the lead. Charleston made several substitutions, moving in for the kill. Kelly and Boyd would both have more chances on goal, but the match was growing increasing chippy. The official went a bit overboard and I doubt there was an unbroken minute of play in the last twenty of the match. Yellow cards were handed out like candy but Charleston were able to see off several late pushes by the Dutch Lions.
Two successive road wins at Pittsburgh and Dayton ended a busy week for the Battery. The six points move Charleston into second place in the USLPRO standing are we're within easy striking distance of league leaders Orlando City. Traveling to Orlando this weekend, Charleston can overtake the Lions with three points Saturday night.
Up the Battery!!