On a night when the Charleston Battery honored manager Mike Anhaeuser for his 25 years of service to the club, the team delivered a typical gutsy performance, as they beat Atlanta United 2 by a score of 1-0.
Despite making nine changes to the side that drew away against the Tampa Bay Rowdies in midweek, with leading goalscorer Attaula Guerra amongst the changes, the Black and Yellow still found ways to create opportunities, and Ian Svantesson was able to convert a penalty that eventually won them the match with five minutes left in the first half.
It seemed only fitting, given the night’s festivities, that some familiar faces return to Charleston for the evening. Goalkeeper Alec Kann, Defender Miles Robinson, Midfielder Andrew Carleton and Stiker Romario Williams, as well as Lagos Kunga, who was on the bench, were all on the books with the Battery at some stage, most during Atlanta United’s affiliation with the team, and while they may have had respect for their former manager, they were no doubt looking to spoil the evening for the home side.
And after feeling each other out in the early going, it was Atlanta who had the first real chance of the evening, when on 24′ Romario Williams forced a flying save out of Odisnel Cooper from distance, who palmed the ball over the bar. The ensuing corner kick was then headed over the bar.
A Battery free kick two minutes later was headed on at the back post by Patrick Okonkwo, but he couldn’t keep it in play.
On 28′ Neveal Hackshaw went on a marauding run up the left wing, leaving defending players in his wake before crossing toward Okonkwo in the middle, this time able to put his diving header on target but right at the ‘keeper.
Kotaro Higashi was able to pull a ball back into the path of Okonkwo shortly after that, but his effort went high and wide.
On 38, Midfielder Angelo Kelly went bursting through defenders at the top of the box, before completing a pass for Nico Rittmeyer, but the shot first time went over the bar as he looked for the top corner with the outside of his boot.
But then, two minutes later, on a run similar to Kelly’s, Kotaro Higashi would go on a run into the box, beating a few defenders and shaping up to shoot before being taken down just before he connected, and the referee pointed to the spot.
Without Attaula Guerra on the pitch, it was Ian Svantesson who stepped up, and the Striker would dispatch low into his right, giving the home side the lead.
Given the passage of play in the previous 15 minutes, the Black and Yellow could say that they deserved to be in front. The penalty, only the striker’s second league goal, came after his first was also against Atlanta in a 3-0 win back in April.
And so the home side went into half time with the lead. Given the chances created, it could’ve been more than the penalty they scored, but they had something to protect all the same.
But Atlanta came out well in the second half. With a bit of renewed energy, they were patient on the ball, willing to wait to create space with a bit of passing, and created the first chance of the second half, forcing Odisnel Cooper into his second save of the evening when Andrew Carleton’s shot from distance went skipping into his arms on 57′.
Attaula Guerra checked in for Svantesson ten minutes later, looking primarily to provide an out ball with the home side having to soak up pressure in their own defensive third, and also looking to go back atop the USL scoring charts.
The Battery worked hard to plug holes in passing lanes in the last twenty minutes, which frustrated the visitors, whilst also creating a handful of half chances through the counter attack, but nothing that really troubled Alec Kann in the Atlanta goal.
And that’s how things finished. It’s only fitting, on a night celebrating his 25 years at the club, that the Battery put in a composed, patient, well managed shift and come away with three points, something that Mike Anhaeuser has built such a successful career upon. The 1-0 win also gave Odisnel Cooper his 40th clean sheet in the league, which set a new record in the modern USL era.
The Battery next take on FC Cincinnati away from home on Saturday, August 18th. Kick off is at 7:30PM.
TOP IMAGE: CLUB CAPTAIN TAYLOR MUELLER AND FORMER CLUB PRESIDENT ANDREW BELL PRESENT COACH MIKE ANHAEUSER WITH A SPECIAL COMMEMORATIVE SHIRT TO MARK HIS 25 YEARS AT THE CLUB. ALL PHOTOS CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY