Saturday, July 7, 2012

Midseason Slump...Charlotte 1-0 Charleston

The Charleston Battery broke the wrong kind of record Saturday night, losing two consecutive games to the Charlotte Eagles for the first time in club history.  I'd love to say we were outmatched and outplayed but I'd be lying.  The Battery controlled the match and outshot their opponents by an impressive margin.  However, Charlotte capitalized every opportunity on goal, hitting the net first and the goalpost twice before full time.

Dane Kelly boasted what might have been Charleston's best chance after only three minutes of play.  Finding space in the final third, the pacey Jamaican striker ripped his shot a foot wide of the far post.  It wasn't long before his second attempt, a shot that dipped just over the crossbar.  Charleston continued to build on the early pressure and saw several shots swing ever so slightly off target.  In spite of the Battery assault, the Eagles conjured a stinging counterattack in the 36th minute as Charlotte's D. Roberts lifted a brilliant volley into the side netting, burning Charleston's last defender and putting the hosts in front.  Responding with pluck, Charleston pressed forward again but were unable to dent the lead before halftime.

The second period was much like the first, the only difference being a multitude of shots on goal.  The Lowcountry Boys exploded out of the break and forced save after save from Charlotte's Eric Reed.  The Eagle's were content to hold a tight defense and continue their counterattacking forays.  Jorge Herrera was sharp for the home side, nearly scoring on three opportunities.  The long-time Charlotte man hit the woodwork twice and came close to scoring with another effort as well.  Try as they might, the Battery were unable find the equalizer.  Nicki Paterson claimed the best effort in the second half with a rocketing free kick only inches off the mark.  The Scotsman also saw a powerful shot driven squarely into the keeper's hands in the closing stages of the fixture.  Bundu and Williams came on for the Battery and combined nicely to add speed and fervor to the Battery attack.  Bundu received a warm welcome from the Charlotte faithful but the former Eagle's frontman went straight to work, pestering his former club.  Bundu has a knack for being in the right place at the right time and before long found himself hauled down inside the penalty box.  However, Charleston's appeal for foulplay fell upon deaf ears.  Jose Cuevas also entered the game from the bench to leave his mark on the match.  Fatigue from Friday's match in Charleston became evident and the Battery began to look a little leggy.  The Eagle's reasserted themselves, sparking dangerous runs in the final minutes, nearly doubling their lead on more than one occasion.  As the clock wound down, the Battery were simply out of chances and out of luck.  At the end of a hard fought game, Charlotte's lone goal was enough to separate the two, leaving Charleston empty handed, having bested their rivals twice in as many nights, carrying three goals, six points, and a daunting lead in the Southern Derby.

Having lost three on the trot, Charleston need to snap out of it...and fast.  With double losses to Charlotte and last Sunday's reverse in Antigua, the Battery have slipped to third place in the USLPRO standings.  They now sit one point behind Rochester and only five points ahead of Wilmington.  Speaking of the Hammerheads, they're coming to town next week.  A win here would be the perfect chance to right the ship and end our midseason slide.  Its important to remember that in all three losses, the Battery have performed well and even controlled the possession and run of play.  However, our opponents have improved since the outset of the season and with goals no longer coming by the bucketful, we must make our shots count and polish up that finishing ball.  All is not lost, but there's plenty of work to do if we want to stay in the title hunt.  Heads high boys and UP THE BATTERY!!!!

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