Ian Svantesson’s somewhat fortunate touch on the end of a mishit shot, as well as a hard-nosed defensive effort, were what led the Battery past Minnesota United FC in their first match of the 2018 Carolina Challenge Cup.
The match followed Columbus Crew’s 3-1 win against Atlanta United to begin the evening, and was the team’s first match in earnest of preseason, having played against Coastal Carolina University in a 3-3 draw on Thursday.
This was also the proper debut for some new faces in Black and Yellow, including the goalscorer Svantesson, while full back Jay Bolt and winger Victor Mansaray both came on as second half substitutes.
Much of the first half was bogged down in midfield. However, Nico Rittmeyer would have the first real chance in earnest on 21′ when he forced goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth into a save at his near post.
Three minutes later, full back Quinton Griffith would blaze a shot over the bar from long range.
With half an hour gone, captain and center back Taylor Mueller would be booked, meaning he would have to remain on his toes throughout the rest of the match to avoid a sending off.
On 43′, Mueller’s center back partner Skylar Thomas would be forced into a 1-on-1 with Abu Danladi in a dangerous area, with the attacker backing him up into the box at pace before Thomas did well to choose his moment and just ease the striker off the ball. Danladi went down under the challenge, but the referee was unimpressed, and in the end, Danladi didn’t seem to make that much of an appeal for a penalty either.
And then, finally, with one minute of added on time in the first half, the deadlock was broken.
A cross from Quinton Griffith on the right was kept alive at the far post before it fell to Naveal Hackshaw, whose shot may have been a little mishit, but the ball was redirected by striker Ian Svantesson into the net, past Shuttleworth who dived the other way as he judged the flight of the first shot. The home side had the lead, and no sooner was the ball set back on the center circle than the half time whistle blew.
There were quite a few changes at half time, with Jay Bolt, Ryan Arambula, Victor Mansaray, successful trialist Vincenzo Caldena, Obi Woodbine, who hasn’t signed with the team for 2018 and is on trial, and Patrick Okonkwo, on loan from Atlanta United, checking in for the second half. The remaining subs were made throughout the second half as both teams looked to gain a look at what they had at their disposal.
Odisnel Cooper would be forced into a sprawling save on 47′ as a cross seemed to hook in the air and cause trouble for the ‘keeper, who would palm it away, before the ball back across on the left went out for a goal kick.
Patrick Okonkwo would be booked for a handball on 51’ for a handball after trying to go for a bouncing ball inside the box. The striker attempted to turn his arm away from the ball as he got closer and closer to a collision with the ‘keeper, but couldn’t stop his momentum as his lower arm collided with the ball.
Kotaro Higashi would be replaced by a trialist, Kevin Jeon, on 58′. Higashi put in a steady half-and-change of work, showing the creativity and desire for a pass that made him such a great player in 2017.
Skylar Thomas would then be replaced on 66’. He excelled in what is thought to be his natural position, doing well to neutralize what you could call the visitor’s best chance to that point in denying Danladi a way past him.
After 72′, Victor Mansaray’s effort from distance on the half volley went horribly wide, but was saved from going out for a throw in by Ryan Arambula, who crossed it in for a flick on, but a defender in front of goal cleared the ball before it could cause any trouble.
A minute later there was a chance at the other end, when a cross, this time from the left, was headed toward goal at the far post and forced Cooper down to his right to smartly keep his team in front.
Taylor Mueller was forced into a last ditch tackle with 12 minutes to go and a striker bearing down on goal with options either side, but the experienced defender did well to win the ball back in a dangerous area with a pinpoint slide tackle.
On 83′, a dangerous looking corner for Minnesota was cleared by the Battery as we headed toward a crucial last few minutes.
But on the ensuing break, Collen Warner dragged back Patrick Okonkwo at midfield before he could power his way toward goal, which resulted in a second yellow card for the midfielder, meaning that Minnesota would finish the match with ten men.
And that’s how the match finished. The Battery would run out 1-0 winners thanks to Ian Svantesson being in the right place at the right time, and also a very disciplined display from the Battery’s backline.
The Battery next face the Columbus Crew on Wednesday February 21st at 5:05, before Minnesota take on Atlanta at 7:05 on the same night.
TOP IMAGE: GOALSCORER IAN SVANTESSON GOES UP FOR A HEADER IN THE BATTERY’S 1-0 WIN OVER MINNESOTA UNITED. ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO