Battery bested in season opener by Cincinnati
Despite a spirited showing, the Charleston Battery were defeated on Saturday night, losing to FC Cincinnati by a score of 1-0.
The scoreline belied the match a little bit, with the Battery creating enough, especially in the second half, to at least earn a point on the night, but it wasn’t to be, as Cincinnati ‘keeper Evan Newton was forced into at least three top-class saves, spearheading a solid defensive performance from the visitors.
From the kick off, Cincinnati were the first to go close, when a quick pass after the first whistle blew fell to Ricardo Ledesma, who spotted Odisnel Cooper off his line and shot from distance, though the effort hit the post and was eventually cleared.
A dragged back ball from the right in the seventh minute was saved by Cooper down to his left after a shot from the right corner of the area.
A succession of Battery corners as we headed for the quarter of an hour looked to point toward the home side turning the screw in some sense, but the chances were wasted and led to nothing.
And then, perhaps a little against the run of play, Cincinnati found an opener. The ball fell to Emery Welshman on the edge of the box following a well placed through ball. Cooper in goal did well to smother the first attempt, but the ball seemed to ricochet off his foot and into the path of Blake Smith, who had an easy tap in to open the scoring.
It was harsh on Cooper, who did really well to smother the danger at the first attempt, but he will be asking where his defense was after Smith was allowed to run up from his defensive position untracked by the Battery defenders.
On 24, Cooper was forced into action again, when a Corben Bone free kick had him sprawling, tipping over a shot that looked destined for the upper 90, but Cooper was equal to it.
On 33′, Ian Svantesson would latch onto a ball up the right side before linking up with Attaula Guerra, who’s shot went well wide.
Five minutes later, Svantesson was on the end of the build up play, getting the ball in the box, but his shot would at least force the ‘keeper into a save.
A few minutes later, Kotaro Higashi was denied after connecting sweetly on the volley from a Quinton Griffith cross, but the ball seemed to just hit the ‘keeper and roll wide.
And that’s how the first half ended. The Battery had their chances, and especially finished the first half the stronger side, but the somewhat soft goal remained the difference.
Shortly after half time, Guerra was given a yellow for a foul midway into the Cincinnati half, meaning he would have to be careful for the rest of the match not to get a second in what was an already frustrating night for him.
A Battery corner on 54’ led to calls for a penalty at the back post, as it looked as if the ball was handled by a visiting defender. The ref, however, would let it go and waive play on.
Just before the hour mark, Kotaro Higashi cut in from the left and played a pass to Attaula Guerra, who shot high over the bar.
A little while later, the Battery had a corner that refused to be cleared, but Cincy got themselves out of danger when a free kick was eventually given.
In the 64th minute, Ian Svantesson would try and create space for himself in the box, and may have had a shot on target had it not been for a last ditch block by a Cincinnati defender.
Nico Rittmeyer‘s inch perfect ball three minutes later for Svantesson at the back post was headed down toward goal, forcing the goalkeeper Newton into another great save.
The next real chance came on 84’. Substitute Gordon Wild stepped up to take a free kick in what was officially crunch time for the Battery. The set piece looked to be destined to force the ‘keeper into a save at the very least, but it was blocked by the wall.
With two minutes left of normal time, a Battery throw in was flicked on at the front post and eventually fell to Patrick Okonkwo, who did everything right, but put his shot straight at the ‘keeper.
With seven minutes of stoppage time given, it looked as if the Battery may have had a chance to get something out of the game late, but things only got worse for the home side, when, on 93’, Quinton Griffith was handed a straight red for alledgedly pushing a player, and the Battery were forced to play with 10 men. He will also be suspended for the next match against Penn FC.
And that’s how things ended. The Battery could feel aggrieved to not get at least a point out of the game, but it shows just how much one mistake can cost you in such a big game.
The Battery next face Penn FC on March 24th. Kickoff is at 7PM.
TOP IMAGE: KOTARO HIGASHI KEADS AN ATTACK FOR THE BATTERY IN THE FIRST HALF OF THEIR LOSS TO CINCINNATI. PHOTO CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY.
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