Montreal Impact loanee Romario Williams was the hero for the Battery on Saturday night, scoring a 94th minute winner with what proved to be just about the last kick of the game, earning his team a massive three points from their first game of the season.
It was a match that was delayed due to lightning in the area. The original kick-off time was scheduled for 7:30, but players emerged for warm-ups at 8:00, with the match itself kicking off at about 8:20.
Despite the delay, the Battery did start the brighter of the two teams, and could’ve had a penalty as early as the fourth minute, when striker Heviel Cordoves latched on to a through ball over the top and went down under contact from his marker. Referee Leland Grant, however, was having none of the arguments, and waved play on.
In the 11th minute, Cordoves fashioned himself another chance, when his speculative effort from all of 25 yards whacked the post, leaving Cincinnati goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt scrambling.
Justin Portillo took a free kick from the left side on 13 which could have proved dangerous, but it went over everyone’s head and out for a free kick.
Cincinnati’s Harrison Delbridge went down with a knock on 24 minutes, and required attention. He would eventually would have to be subbed off at half time.
Jimmy McLaughlin was a spark for Cincinnati, overlapping both wings from time to time, and used pace to get down the flank on 31, but only saw his ensuing cross deflect off of him for a goal kick.
McLaughlin was again a handful a couple minutes later on 35, making a good run before going down inside the box, though nothing was given and play resumed.
On 39, a counter attack from deep eventually found its way to the Battery’s Attulah Guerra, who had a decent first half on his competitive debut, but his ball in search of the front men was just too long.
A shot more in hope than expectation on the half volley from Battery midfielder Zach Prince went high over the bar, meaning that at half time, the score remained 0-0.
At half time, while both sides were doing a lot of running and keeping possession relatively well, there was little to show for it. There were four shots in total, with three going the way of the home side, and each sharing a shot on target.
Two minutes after the half-time break, Forrest Lasso committed a foul in a dangerous position, giving Cincinatti their first opportunity of the half. The ensuing free kick was hit low and hard toward the far post, which had ‘keeper Alex Tambakis scrambling, but the ball went out for a goal kick.
Three minutes later, it was Tambakis again needing to be on his toes, when a shot from outside the box tested him, but the save was made relatively easy by the lack of power.
Another free kick went through traffic on 57, but again found its way to Tambakis with no real danger.
On 63, Cincinnati would make their second sub, replacing Andrew Weidemann with Antione Hoppenot, as they looked to press forward, with Hoppenot being a second striker.
On 65 minutes, a deep cross from a Cincinnati corner kick was headed back across at the back post, but the ball bounced before connecting with a second head and going wide of Alex Tambakis’ goal.
After 66 minutes, Heviel Cordoves found himself with space at the byline, before cutting in and having the ball taken from under his feet. The ball popped out to Zach Prince, whose shot rose high over the bar.
On 68, Forrest Lasso thought he had the Battery’s opening goal of the campaign, after latching on to a corner that wasn’t cleared, but it was disallowed for offside.
Two minutes later, it was time for the Battery’s first sub. Coming off was Heviel Cordoves, who put in a decent shift in his own right, and coming on was Romario Williams.
Maikel Chang, who was the Battery’s assist leader last year, and had two assists in their last preseason friendly against the New York Cosmos, had himself a run shortly after, before cutting in and seeing his shot go wide.
Jimmy McLaughlin served in a tasty ball into the penalty area on 73, but no one in a Cincinnati shirt was there to poke it home, and it went all the way through
It didn’t take Williams long to get going up front, and on 78, he had the Battery’s best chance to that point, when a ball from midfield put him clean through, although Cincinnati ‘keeper Hildebrandt was alive to the danger, coming out of his box and snuffing out the chance by cutting down the angle, whilst the onrunning Maikel Chang was unable to get a clean shot from the rebound. Hildebrandt came off the worse for wear despite his heroics, though, requiring treatment before being allowed to continue.
Dante Marini replaced Ricky Garbanzo on 79, and while Garbanzo had a few good touches on the ball throughout the evening, his job was made difficult by near constant physical battles with Cincinnati defenders. The substitution of Marini not only gave a threat and fresh legs going forward, but gave Garbanzo a much needed rest.
Attulah Guerra thought he might have stolen in 6 minutes from time, when a good ball from Zach Prince put him in on goal, only to see his shot take a lick of the post on its way out for a goal kick.
However, the final say would belong to the home side, as the Battery dug deep given four minutes of added on time at the end of the 90. It was Romario Williams who would latch on to an Obrien Woodbine cross after the full back marched forward from midfield. Williams took a touch, beat his defender, and sneak the ball in under Hildebrandt in the Cincinnati goal. The new signing raced away to celebrate his first goal with The Regiment in E1, and shortly after kick off from the ensuing euphoria, the referee blew the final whistle, giving the Battery an all important first three points from their opening game of the season.
And so, despite the rain, and a hard-fought 90 minutes, it was the Battery who have their first win of the season. Next up, the Battery travel to Orlando, to take on Orlando City B on the 1st of April. Kick off is at 7:30.
Photo Credit Ross Almers.