A pair of goals from Taylor Meuller and Heviel Cordoves gave the Charleston Battery three points against rivals Richmond Kickers Saturday night in what proved to be another dominant performance. It was an important win for the Black and Yellow, putting them in 4th place in the East, a point behind FC Cincinnatti, and 5 behind first place Louisville.
The Battery got off to an early start, creating a few good opportunities before earning a corner in the 13th minute after some good work by Obi Woodbine, using his speed to get to the byline before his cross was cleared, but the ensuing corner led to naught.
Richmond’s ‘keeper, Charlie Horton had to be on his toes, as Ricky Garbanzo played in a good looking ball toward Romario Williams, almost connecting before Horton came to gather and snuff out the danger.
Zach Prince would then play Garbanzo through on 20 minutes, but once again, the ‘keeper was there to smother. The Battery were creating well, but needed to capitalize before Richmond came into the game.
There was certainly a moment of worry after 27 minutes, when leading goalscorer Romario Williams, who had already been on the pace so far, would have to be substituted due to an apparent muscle injury by Heviel Cordoves. Cordoves isn’t easy to deal with in his own right, however, and he would make his presence felt.
Maikel Chang took a shot from long range after finding space about 20 yards from goal just before the half hour mark, but Horton would be on his toes, denying the Battery playmaker an excellent goal.
This time, however, the corner would be much better, as Justin Portillo served from the right. The ball was played in to center back Taylor Mueller, who glanced a header toward goal at the front post which went across the face of goal and in to give the Battery a 1-0 lead. Mueller’s no stranger to scoring goals, having done so on numerous occasions, and likes to pop up in derbies, especially. This was just the beginning of what turned out to be a man of the match performance.
And it wasn’t long before the Battery doubled their lead. Some great build up play on 39′ and an excellent array of passes eventually led to Obi Woodbine being the out ball on the left hand side. The full back played an excellent ball and the substitute Cordoves would rise highest, dispatching the ball into the top corner as it was impossible to reach and the home side were up 2-0.
On the stroke of half time, Richmond had a pair of corners that looked troublesome, but the ball was eventually collected by Alex Tambakis in goal for the Battery.
The home side deserved the lead, after spending a lot of the first half with the ball, while also creating a few chances to maybe even further their lead going into the break.
It was all change for Richmond at half time, however. They made four subs at the break, clearly unhappy with what had transpired in the first 45.
A ball through on the other side of half time nearly created a mix-up between Tambakis and center-half Mueller at the back, but the ball was collected by the goalkeeper and no harm was done.
A deft flick at the other end by Maikel Chang nearly put Cordoves in for a chance to double his tally, but the striker was given offside as the ball was played into him.
Richmond then could have pulled one back through Yudai Imura, who connected with a cross and sent a volley toward goal, but Meuller did well, getting his body in front of the effort which hit the post after the deflection.
Just past the hour mark, the Battery were again unlucky to not have extra insurance, as a curling free kick from Justin Portillo was just inches from finding the back of the net, hitting the bar as the scoreline remained 2-0.
After 68′, there were appeals for a penalty after Ricky Garbanzo went down in the box. There looked to be an outstretched arm from the defender which came across Garbanzo, but the referee waved play on.
A Richmond free kick from the right side went wide after having a crack from a the weird angle with 15 minutes left, when there was four Richmond players in the area.
Dante Marini came on for Ricky Garbanzo shortly after, but was only on for a few minutes after a challenge just beyond midfield had the referee reaching for his back pocket to produce the red card. Marini may feel a little hard done by, given that the challenge was his first and he stayed on his feet. Nevertheless, the home side would play the remainder of the match with ten men, and Marini will miss the next game against Louisville in Kentucky next week.
Maikel Chang came off on 82′ to be replaced by Emmanuel Adjetey. The full back would cameo on the wing for the remaining eight minutes, making his mark with a nifty little run and move to beat a defender with his first few touches on the ball, before being fouled in a bit of a dangerous area. This led to howls from the home fans, who believed that challenge to be worse than the one that Marini had previously gotten his marching orders for.
In the subsequent stoppage, Heviel Cordoves came off to be replaced by Chris Tsonis. Cordoves, of course, scoring the second goal of the evening, put in a decent shift in relief of the injured Williams, and showed that he provides a little something different, as well as depth for the Battery up front.
Yudai Imura’s shot in stoppage time was closer to the corner flag than the goal, as the whistle blew soon after, giving the Battery the three points before their high profile friendly with Scottish giants Rangers FC on Wednesday.
In addition to the Rangers friendly in midweek, the Battery will return to league play as they travel to Louisville City FC on Saturday, July 9th.
TOP IMAGE: TAYLOR MUELLER CELEBRATES WITH HIS TEAMMATES AFTER GLANCING HOME THE BATTERY’S OPENING GOAL. ALL PHOTO CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY