Attaula Guerra’s goal midway through the second half was what made the difference as the Charleston Battery ran out 1-0 winners over Penn FC, securing their first three points of the season.
It was a match where you felt something special was going to be required to break the deadlock, after a very sleepy and sluggish first half, that was very physical and mostly played in midfield.
But following the break, the Battery came out looking the better side, and got their reward just past the hour mark when Victor Mansaray, who came on as a first half substitute for Nico Rittmeyer after an injury, played Guerra in behind. Guerra then turned on the jets in a confined space along the byline before dragging the ball back to beat the oncoming defender, firing with a bit of curl into the opposite top corner.
Gordon Wild, Jay Bolt and Vincenzo Candela were all given their full debuts, as Naveal Hackshaw and Quinton Griffith were on international duty, while Kotaro Higashi missed out through injury. All three of the debutants, including Victor Mansaray, who came on for an injured Nico Rittmeyer in the 16th, played well to some extent, and showed promise that they can be counted on throughout the season when given the opportunity.
After a fairly sleepy first half in which neither side created much in terms of the attack, the home side came out with a bit of renewed impetous in the second period, a cross from the right on 53′ was headed back across goal and into the path of the onrushing Gordon Wild, whose eyes lit up to see the ball cushioned back at such an inviting height, but maybe had a bit more time than he realized, as he snatched at the ball and sliced it wide on the half volley.
On 59′, Victor Mansaray would make a darting run on the inside of the right wing, taking space into a more central position before playing eventual goalscorer Guerra. Guerra would play what looked to be a well timed pass to Gordon Wild, but the linesman’s flag would go up for offside.
But just three minutes later, the deadlock would be broken. It was Mansaray who would play provider, powering once again at the visitors’ backline, before playing Guerra in on the inside edge of the box. He would do well in a confined space, having to deal with the onrushing defenders and the byline, but would roll the ball back to his other foot, thus removing a defender from the play on the turn, leaving him one-on-one with the ‘keeper, and he put a bit of curl into a picture book effort to put his side up 1-0.
It was one of those games where it needed a goal to get going in a certain sense, and thankfully for the Battery, the goal was theirs.
The Black and Yellow could’ve doubled their lead on 71’, when Guerra earned a free kick for intentional handball on the left edge of the penalty area. However, the shot hit the wall before it could do any damage, and the ball was cleared.
Odisnel Cooper was nearly called into action a short time later, when a cross from the left was not fully cleared before it fell to an onrushing attacker, who blazed a shot over the bar.
Second half sub Patrick Okonkwo would then come close to doubling the lead, latching onto an inch perfect ball from the back to go one-on-one with the ‘keeper, but the chance of two goal cushion would be denied as Okonkwo put it right at the keeper, eventually snatching at the attempted rebound, which went high and wide.
Okonkwo’s night would get even more frustrating when, on 88’, he would be sent off after going up against a Penn defender in the run up to a through ball. The defender went down holding his face, and the referee went to his pocket, issuing Okonkwo his marching orders and marking the Battery’s second red in as many matches.
However, the Battery held on to earn the clean sheet with ten men, and, most importantly, their first win of the year.
The win was especially important, given the fact that the Battery’s next home game isn’t until April 28th, after an away trip that includes stops at the Red Bulls II, Bethlehem, Penn FC and Atlanta United 2. An off week is sandwiched in as well, between the games against Bethlehem and tonight’s opponents.
The next match, away to New York, is scheduled for March 31st at 1PM.
TOP IMAGE: STRIKER IAN SVANTESSON FIGHTS FOR A BALL IN THE BATTERY’S FIRST WIN OF 2018. PHOTO CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY