A brace from Gordon Wild helped the Charleston Battery toward claiming all three points against Indy Eleven on Wednesday night.
A curling effort from distance midway through the first half gave the home side the lead at the break, before they were pegged back just before the hour mark by a deft chip despite a hint of offside, but the Black and Yellow weren’t to be denied as Wild added to his tally to make the difference with four minutes of time to go.
If the teams’ 3-3 draw at Lucas Oil Stadium was anything to go by, the game promised goals in abundance, though with both teams having played at the weekend, they took the opportunity to tweak the starting XI and give a few players some much needed rest. The Battery made seven such changes, with Odisnel Cooper in between the sticks, while Leland Archer was an enforced change following Skylar Thomas’ injury in the last match against North Carolina FC. In midfield, there was Jay Bolt wide right, with Ryan Arambula partnering Tah Brian Anunga and Nico Rittmeyer on the left. Victor Mansaray partnered Gordon Wild and Patrick Okonkwo, in for Kotaro Higashi and Attaula Guerra respectively.
It was Jay Bolt’s cross that created the first half-chance of the game after 13 minutes when, although his service was cleared, Ryan Arambula’s speculative effort rose high above the bar from distance.
On 16′ an Indy free kick was played toward the back post and kept in with a pop up of a header that was eventually taken down with a bicycle kick from close range, but Odisnel Cooper made the easy save.
And then, after 23′, came a rather stunning breakthrough goal from Gordon Wild. After Tah Brian Anunga would spray wide to Nico Rittmeyer on the right, he would cut in and pass short to Wild, who took time to set himself, saw he had the space and ripped a curling shot from distance that nestled in the top corner.
The goal continued the striker’s penchant for the spectacular, clearly unafraid to take the chances that fell his way.
But the visitors weren’t deterred. Eugene Starikov volleyed from close range on 28′, as he received a cross from right that hit the side netting.
And then, two minutes later, their best chance of the half came, when a corner earned by Indy came in from the left and forced Odisnel Cooper low to make a save from pure reaction off his back foot to keep his side in front by forcing it around the post.
Just before half time, Nico Rittmeyer would lead some great build up play before playing to Jay Bolt out wide, whose ball to Patrick Okonkwo on the right of the box was skied over the bar.
As the teams went in at the break, there was a feeling that the Battery, however the better side, would need more than one goal to complete the task at hand. While creating chances, unlike some games in recent weeks, they were still lacking the clinical edge to give themselves breathing space.
The Battery continued to create after the restart as, with two minutes gone, a dangerous free kick from the left bounced its way through the box and out again before anyone could get a proper touch.
Another chance came and went when Rittmeyer’s square ball across the edge of the penalty area was skied by Victor Mansaray in the 53rd.
It was five minutes later when Indy would register their first chance of the second period, when a through ball played into Storikov beat the offside trap, which the referee adjudged to have stepped up a hair too late, leaving the striker 1-on-1 with a chipped finish to even the scores.
And if not for Taylor Mueller‘s intervention on 61’, the Battery would’ve been behind. A ball down the left had Cooper between a rock and a hard place, and the ‘keeper failed to make himself big enough to keep the effort in front of him. Fortunately, a backtracking Mueller got himself on the line before it could give the visitors the lead.
Indy would go on to turn the screw a bit, ratcheting up the pressure and getting into some good spaces, but nothing too dangerous for the Black and Yellow.
A Battery free kick on 79′ was initially cleared, only for substitute Obi Woodbine, who came on in place of the injured Bolt, to wind up from distance on the pull back from the second ball, but the effort went high over the bar.
And then, on 84′, a Battery counter attack would fall to the feet of another sub, Jarad van Schaik, who spotted the well timed run by Gordon Wild down the left flank, and the goalscorer took on his man, took a touch to his left to set himself, and went across the ‘keeper to double his tally and put his side back in front.
It was a quick goal in the making for the Battery, and this time, the lead was something they looked to hold onto with such a short time remaining.
And the last chance of the game would fall the home side’s way, as deep in stoppage time, it was Wild again on the ball, forcing a double save from the goalkeeper, who denied him of a hat trick at the near post as he tried to shoot from 12 yards out following a cross from the left, and then on the rebound down low.
And that’s the way it ended, the Battery prevailing by a score of 2-1. The match was only the seventh time in 21 competitive matches this season, with 19 in the league, that the Battery have scored more than one goal in a game, with two of those coming in games they didn’t pick up the full points, the aforementioned draw with Indy, and a 5-2 loss against New York.
They next face Louisville City FC on Saturday, July 14th. Kick off is at 7PM. You can watch the game on MyTV Charleston and ESPN+
TOP IMAGE: GORDON WILD AND NICO RITTMEYER CELEBRATE THE BATTERY’S OPENING GOAL WEDNESDAY NIGHT. ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTOS