Despite a spirited first half showing, the Charleston Battery were bested 3-0 away from home against Atlanta United FC in the fourth round of the US Open Cup on Wednesday night.
Despite an early goal from former Battery loanee and Atlanta homegrown Andrew Carleton, the Black and Yellow created chances, most of which were in the first 45, before an early second half penalty earned by another former loanee, Romario Williams, and put away by Ezequiel Barco eased the pressure for the home side before Williams himself would add a third just after the hour mark.
Atlanta came out quickly, but were harried by a well timed high press in the early runnings. They did, however, create the first half chance, when eventual goal scorer Barco would find Julian Gressel on the left, the wingback crossing inside toward Brandon Vasquez, before Odisnel Cooper would cut the ball out at the front post.
However, quickly after came the Battery’s first chance, when Neveal Hackshaw’s cross went over striker Ian Svantesson‘s head before popping back out to Attaula Guerra, who found a man at the top of the box in the form of Vincenzo Candela, who would’ve had a shot if not for Sal Zizzo’s block whilst Candela was winding up.
Atlanta would calm down the play before finding the breakthrough in the 14th, when Andrew Carleton’s run through the middle wasn’t picked up, before the midfielder had a shot from range that Odisnel Cooper got his hand to but couldn’t keep out as the score was 1-0.
It was a shot that should’ve been shut down before the chance was taken, but the Battery would have to pick themselves up if they were to get back into it.
A Battery corner just after the half hour mark looked dangerous, but was cleared at the first attempt before Skylar Thomas would collect and try to reset, looking for Obi Woodbine on the overlap before the lane was cut out by Zizzo and the ball went out for a goal kick.
As the half time whistle blew, the Battery knew they were still in it, but would need to create clear cut chances having worked so hard to impose their will on the game with the press.
But a spanner in the works came just a couple minutes after the break, when Romario Williams would do a couple step overs in the box and be taken down by Skylar Thomas, for which the referee would point to the spot. The move was something Williams was looking for all night, and Thomas had finally been sucked in. The defender, who seems more comfortable in his natural center back position than the right back spot he was at last year, would feel frustrated knowing that he had given away the spot kick, but surely knew it was rash to kick out at the striker as he passed.
Ezequiel Barco would step up from 12 yards, and while Odisnel Cooper would guess right and get his hand to the ball, he would only be able to tip it onto the underside of the bar, before it bounced over the line.
This seemed to be a hammer blow for the Battery, who had exerted a lot of energy in the first half trying to keep their opponents contained.
The home side then began to assert a bit of dominance over the visitors, and would play a bit of keep ball until the 64th.
That was when they added a bit of insult to injury, with Kevin Kratz winning the ball back high up the pitch, before finding Romario Williams, who spun inside and used his body to create space before firing into the bottom corner.
With respect to his former team and the travelling supporters, Williams didn’t celebrate against a team he spent two years with before coming into his own and earning a place in the Atlanta team.
The Battery looked to salvage something for a valiant effort shortly after when Vincenzo Candela aimed a ball into the box from a free kick low, which was flicked toward goal and forced a save at the back post before it was cleared away.
Candela had another chance to serve the ball in toward Skylar Thomas on 78′, but Alec Kann in goal would punch away.
And that was that. And 11 game unbeaten run came to an end. However, a chance to get back on the horse is right around the corner, when the Battery take on the Richmond Kickers this Saturday, June 9th at 7PM away from home.
TOP IMAGE: ATTAULA GUERRA TAKES ON ATLANTA ‘KEEPER ALEC KANN IN THE TWO SIDES’ CAROLINA CHALLENGE CUP MEETING IN MARCH. PHOTO CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY