Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Double Deuce!!

Two games.  Three goals.  Six Points.

The Charleston Battery passed their first real road test with flying colors, coming home with all six points and confidence to spare after last week's fixtures at Harrisburg and Dayton.  Improving to fourth in the league table, Charleston lengthen their current winning streak to four games.  Here's how it all happened:

Harrisburg City 1-2 Charleston

The Battery rolled into Harrisburg last Wednesday with the difficult task of unseating one of the only unbeaten teams in the league.  The City Islanders were still riding the high of walloping Rochester 5-1 in their home opener and looking to make that momentum count when Charleston came to town.

After a bizarre delayed kickoff on account of some athletic tape, the first few minutes of the match were rather tame.  Seemingly out of nowhere, Mark Wiltse sent a hopeful cross far along the pitch, eyeing Mike Azira.  The Ugandan met the ball with a flawless volley, dropping it just inside the top right corner of the net.  With no attempts at modesty, this goal was highlight reel material...I don't mean 'Goals of the Week'...I'm thinking contender for goal of the season at least!  Stunning the fans, the players, and likely the officiating crew, the game took a different tack after Azira's 10th minute golazo.  Charleston were in the ascendency and effectively bossing the show.  The visitor's repeatedly made foray's into the Harrisburg final third and kept Nick Noble (who's no netminding greenhorn) on his toes for the better part of the evening.

In the 38th, the Battery were awarded a penalty following a handball inside the box and Nicki Paterson skillfully converted.  For a moment the goal was adjudged to be wide, as Paterson's powerful placement burst the seems of the net, but a correct call was soon to follow.  Harrisburg were able to pull a goal back just before the break when Hernandez picked his spot and arched a 20 yard shot.  And while it was a quality strike, Odisnel Cooper seemed to be obscured by his own defender and the resulting reaction was unequal to Hernandez' delivery.

The second half would prove much like the first, continuing to flatter the Charleston Battery.  To their credit, the Islanders fought hard for the equalizer, but Charleston were content to maintain possession, hold their defensive shape, and blitz their hosts with furious counterattacks.  Without making the scoresheet, Dane Kelly had another impressive performance registering a number a chances while harrying the Islander's back line for most of the match.  Quinton Griffith was also key in Charleston's assault, and his pace caused more than a few problems for his markers.

Check out all the goals from the match...but especially Azira's strike!

The real lesson learned against Harrisburg is that the Charleston Battery are very versatile and capable of adapting to a multitude of styles of play.  They certainly had their work cut out for them, but the 2-1 win over the Islanders is a fantastic result.  The great news is, the winning didn't stop there...

Dayton 0-1 Charleston

Despite a reverse at the hands of Orlando City, the Dayton Dutch Lions have been enjoying a run of good form this season.  Continuing to grow and strengthen, the young franchise has high hopes for their third USL Pro season, and when the Battery came to town, the mood was optimistic to say the least.  

Charleston started well and had a near miss in the 8th minute.  The match began to open up and the hosts created a few chances of their own.  Goalkeeper Kevin "Godzilla" Klasila earned his first start of the season and did well between the sticks.  In the 33rd minute, Charleston had the good fortune of earning yet another handball-penalty decision.  It goes without saying, Paterson stepped to spot and put the Battery in front.  Surprisingly, it was to be the game's only goal.  

In the second half, a reserved Battery side looked comfortable riding the one-goal lead in the face of heavy pressure from the Dutch Lions.  Klasila logged five saves on the evening and with Falvey and Mueller in the center, Charleston's defense seemed as resolute as ever.  Emmanuel Adjetey did some fine work of his own, carving up a few chances for the visitors.  For the all their determination, Dayton's attack was toothless in the finish, and Charleston would climb onto the bus with a neat six points in their pockets.  

With several players out of action due to injury, the Battery demonstrated their depth in the tie against the Dutch Lions.  While it might not have been the most heart-pounding, goal scoring match of the season, winning two road games in only three days is an accomplishment for anyone.  Charleston host the Wilmington Hammerheads this Saturday in Blackbaud's Kick for the Cure, a fun annual initiative in the fight against breast cancer.  Oh yeah... and its the first match of the Southern Derby!!!  So be sure to cheer for the boys either in the stands or on the livestream!  

Up the Battery!!!

(photo credit: USL Pro facebook)

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