In a match where neither team was ever out of the contest, it was the Charleston Battery who prevailed against New York Red Bulls II, earning a big three points to start a tough road trip.
The Battery put themselves into a bit of trouble early on, when defender Shawn Ferguson misplaced a pass that was intercepted high in midfield by the Red Bulls, and in one pass, Anatole Abang was through on goal, but Alex Tambakis came and closed the angle, giving the striker little space to shoot before the ball was eventually parried by the ‘keeper and cleared.
But from danger at one end to a breakthrough at the other, as Obi Woodbine would take a throw-in high up the pitch for the visitors. Woodbine, dangerous with his long throw-ins, which often turn out to be more of a set piece, found Maikel Chang at the front post, whose header found the upper 90 to give the Battery the early 1-0 lead.
Chang is someone who often is the provider than the one who finishes the chances, but the Battery had an early goal to defend, and with the amount of solid frontmen for the Red Bulls, they would have to be on their game.
But Romario Williams was on the other end of a long ball in the 11th minute, fighting his way to the byline before pulling the ball back before the cross was cleared, giving Woodbine another chance to launch one into the box, but this time the ball was cleared at the front post as the Red Bulls had apparently learned their lesson.
Three minutes later. there was more danger for the Battery, as the Red Bulls had a corner, which went all the way through and dropped othe right edge of the six, but it was scuffled away by the Battery and up the pitch.
The Red Bulls had some chances down the right side as a cross in on 24′ went out for a corner, but the set piece came to nothing as it was eventually cleared.
Obi Woodbine would continue his impressive showing when he found space in the middle on 29′, threading an inch perfect through ball to Romario Williams. The through ball left Williams with only one thing left to do, and he picked his spot into the bottom corner to double the Battery’s lead. The frontman is certainly glad to have rediscovered his scoring touch in recent weeks, having gone through a somewhat barren spell, and will hope it continues with a tough couple of games coming up for the boys in Black and Yellow.
On 36′ the Red Bulls threatened again through Abang, who latched on to a through ball and eventually fired a shot at the near post, but the effort found only the side netting and the Battery’s lead remained at two.
A great run by Williams sent up Chang for the Battery a couple minutes later, but his shot aimed for the far corner was saved well by the Red Bulls ‘keeper to keep his side in the game.
In first half stoppage time, it was again Abang who was knocking at the door, but his shot went over the bar after a deflection. The ensuing corner was taken short and crossed in at the second attempt, and though a Red Bulls head rose to meet it, the shot sailed over the bar and the half time whistle blew.
And though you could probably say the home side were the better team in the first half, it was the Battery in front, though with the way they were attacking, the hosts were by no means out of it, and would surely be out to prove that in the second half.
And prove it they did. A ball from midfield ten minutes into the second half found a man free on the right edge of the box as it looked as though the Battery were trying to catch the hosts in an offside trap, but it failed as Stefano Bonomo connected with a cross, sliding in and pulling one back for the home side.
It was quite deserved for the home side, and put the Battery on the back foot after coming out and attacking themselves at the start of the second half before the Red Bulls would fashion that first real chance in the second half. It gave the Red Bulls a shot in the arm, and left the Battery a bit shocked.
And the Red Bulls would be level just five minutes after. A Red Bulls corner on that hour mark would be cleared, but only for another, eventually taking a third attempt before anything came of it. The ball was recycled back to Kevin O’Toole, who put in a cross deep into the Battery box looking for someone to head it along. The header never came, and the ball instead bounced. The goalkeeper Tambakis was also expecting the header, and was caught unawares by the bounce, giving the Red Bulls a slightly bizarre equalizer as the score was 2-2.
And so, within 15 minutes of the second half, the Battery’s two goal lead had been erased, which shows you how quickly a game can change. And there was still thirty minutes left for either side to put their stamp on the game.
And thankfully, it was the Battery. The equalizer had prompted a substitution, with Heviel Cordoves coming on in place of Romario Williams. It didn’t take long for the striker to get involved, when Maikel Chang played an inch perfect ball from the left flank low and hard into the penalty area, and Cordoves, getting there ahead of his center-back and shooting first time, leaving the ‘keeper flat footed and putting the visitors back in front.
But that wasn’t the end of the story for the Red Bulls either, when Tambakis was forced into a great save with just about a quarter of an hour to go from an effort on the left that was curling into the opposite corner. Tambakis did well to get down to meet the attempt through a crowd of bodies and parry it away before it was cleared.
But a worrying moment for Quinton Griffith came with five minutes of normal time left, as he collided with Anatole Abang while going up for a header. The ball went out for a corner to the hosts, but both players came down and collided with the goal. Griffith came off worse for wear, and had to be stretchered off. The corner however, was no danger as it went over the bar.
In the 97th minute, the Red Bulls had their best chance to pull something out of it late on, when the ball popped out at the top of the box, but Taylor Meuller got in the way of the effort, taking it full in the face and deflecting the ball away.
And in the Red Bulls’ haste to get back into it, there was an off the ball incident involving Shawn Ferguson for the Battery and Red Bulls’ goalscorer Stefano Bonomo, which led to the latter being sent off, as the hosts ended the match with 10 men.
And that’s the way it stayed, after a full 13 minutes of added on time due to a water break and the Griffith injury. The performance wasn’t perhaps the best for the Battery, but the defense stood strong, and clinical finishing is what got the boys in Black and Yellow over the line.
The three points was crucial, going into a hostile atmosphere in Cincinnati, with that game coming next Saturday. Kick Off is at 7PM.
TOP IMAGE: TODAY’S GAME WINNER HEVIEL CORDOVES SQUARES UP AGAINST AN FC CINCINNATI DEFENDER IN THE FIRST MATCH OF THE SEASON. PHOTO CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY.