Friday, May 17, 2013

Mixed Results in the Southern Derby

While a washing machine on the fritz and a host of other complications kept me from the computer this week, I always assume soccer news is better late than never!  With that being said, lets take a look at the past week for the Charleston Battery.

Charleston 4-2 Wilmington

Taking the game by the scruff of the neck, the Battery lit up the scoreboard in only the second minute of play!  Nicki Paterson supplied Dane Kelly and with the Jamaican's sparkling finish, the pair made sure all 3,699 fans were on their feet (whether they'd found their seat or not!).  Ten minutes later, Paterson notched a goal of his own, scoring his third in as many games, with an unstoppable missile.  Charleston continued the one-way traffic, netting another in the 21st minute.  This time it was Zach Prince who pounced on a loose ball and curled a shot just inside the far post netting.  Unsatisfied with three, the Battery would score again on the half hour, as John Wilson solidified his role as on-field legend.  Receiving a precision pass from Quinton Griffith, Wilson rifled a shot with his swinger and found the mark from a distance of about 30 yards.  There's scarcely been a more productive spell for the Charleston Battery, but it would prove to be only part of the story.  

It was truly a tale of two halves, and the Hammerheads took the pitch with something to prove.  A renewed Wilmington side was led by Paul Nicholson who scored twice in six minutes in the 53rd and 59th.  Sniffing an epic comeback, the visitors pressed harder than ever and an already physical contest would soon go progress to ejections.  Charleston's Cody Ellison was shown red for his role in a scuffle in the 69th minute and Wilmington's centre back Gareth Evans was dismissed only three minutes later. The discipline certainly deflated the tension a bit, but would not prevent the Hammerheads from forcing a good save from Odisnel Cooper and rattling the crossbar before it was all over.  

Charleston's impressive offensive showcase in the first half was followed by an equally solid defense performance in the second.  Given their recent form, most would be impressed by the fight in the fatigued Hammerheads squad and I'd say it was one of their best outings this season.  Continuing to climb in the USL Pro table, the Battery also bagged their first points in the 2013 edition of the Southern Derby.

Charlotte 1-0 Charleston 

With a rare Tuesday fixture, the boys traveled north to lock horns with long-time rivals the Charlotte Eagles in the second installment of the Southern Derby saga.  The in-form Eagles are flying high this season as they stand alone with Richmond as the only undefeated teams in USL Pro.  And with only four goals allowed (1st in the league) Mark Steffen's defense surely means business.  

While it may not have been described as beautiful, the match featured some hard-nosed, quality play from both sides.  Chances on goal were certainly few, but Charlotte had the first opportunity, firing high in a corner kick scramble ten minutes on.  The Battery responded with a fine volley off a Charlotte clearance in the 18th minute.  Emmanuel Adjety placed the ball well, but his shot was found firmly lodged in the side netting.  It wasn't long before the game evolved into a war of attrition, as both teams locked into defensive formations.  The breakthrough would come in the 65th minute when Charleston surrendered a free-kick just outside the penalty area.  Eagle's defender Shaun Francis took the kick, skirted the wall, and beat Cooper to put Charlotte in front.  The Battery countered immediately with offensive substitutions and chased the game for the rest of the match.  In the final ten minutes, Charleston managed a few good scoring chances but were unable to make them count.  

The loss in Charlotte is certainly a frustrating one, but should not be a great discouragement.  The Battery played well but were punished for a momentary defensive lapse.  Perhaps worse than the result was the injury to Amadou Sanyang early in the first half.  Having already suffered a concussion in preseason, taking the hard knock on Tuesday was undoubtedly the last thing he needed.  

The Battery look forward to another busy week traveling to face the Houston Dynamo Reserves in inter-league play at BBVA Compass Stadium Sunday morning.  The Pride of the Lowcountry will then fly out of Houston and head for Portland, Oregon to take on the Timber's U-23's in the Open Cup Tuesday night.  Its a lot to ask of any team, but we have high hopes and I don't expect those hopes will be disappointed in either affair.  Here we go boys!!

Up the Battery!!!

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