Goals in each half from Zeiko Lewis and Dante Marini helped the Charleston Battery to their first win of the 2019 USL Championship season after beating Hartford Athletic by a score of 2-1.
Lewis was on the end of a well worked team goal early on in the first half before Dante Marini would double the home side’s lead on 73′. A late penalty from Hartford’s Phil Rasmussen would give the home side a bit of a scare near the end, but an astute save from Joe Kuzminsky in stoppage time would secure all three points for the Black and Yellow.
The Battery started the better of the two sides, and Nico Rittmeyer would win a ball in midfield just after a quarter of an hour before bursting down the left wing and finding Zeiko Lewis, who cut inside, setting up a give and go with Romario Piggott, who found Lewis again with a brilliantly timed ball over the top as Lewis finished sweetly on the volley to put the Black and Yellow up 1-0.
It was a silky smooth attack from the home side, who looked lively with Lewis making his full debut in Black and Yellow. Together with Piggott and Rittmeyer, as well as Higashi and Marini who were substitutes tonight, there looks to be no shortage of creativity for the Battery in 2019, which will hopefully only improve as the season progresses.
A shot on 22′ by Piggott from just outside the box went wide of the far post and out for a goal kick, before a free kick on 29′ would bounce around in the Hartford penalty area, but would eventually be cleared before the home side could cause any danger.
Piggott and Lewis would combine again on 41′, this time setting up a cross on the left flank for Ian Svantesson, who mishit his shot over the bar from close range.
Svantesson had another chance on the other side of the break, when he used his strength to win a ball high up the pitch before putting a shot on goal, but the effort went straight to the ‘keeper from the right of the box.
On 56′, a mistake from Tah Brian Anunga would fashion a chance for the visitors, but the midfielder would track back and win the ball with a well timed challenge as the ball went out for a corner, which was cleared.
Hartford then began to apply pressure as the match went on, earning a succession of corners, but the Battery defense would stand firm.
And then, on 73, a Battery corner would initially be palmed away by the ‘keeper, but the visitors would struggle to fully clear it away, and the knockdown would eventually find Svantesson, whose shot from an acute angle would be saved, but the rebound would go into the path of Dante Marini to double the home side’s lead.
It was clearly an emotional moment for the winger, who spent all of 2018 out with an unfortunate knee injury, and fans and teammates alike were elated as he celebrated with the fans in E1.
Things got tense in the final knockings of the game as a handball was called after Vincenzo Candela slid in to make a clearance, though the ball would hit his arm, prompting the referee to point to the spot.
Phil Rasmussen would step up to the plate and pull a goal back, which prompted more late pressure on the Battery goal.
Kuzminsky would have to be alert deep in stoppage time as a cross hung up in the air from the right and would require a palm over the top from the Battery stopper, but the ensuing free kick was over everyone’s head, and the referee would soon blow for full time.
And so, the Battery would collect their first win of the season. The home side created some good chances despite the close scoreline, and after two games, there’s plenty for fans to be excited about in the new year.
The Battery next have a week off before preparations begin for the first away trip of the season, against North Carolina FC on March 30th. Kick off is at 7PM.
FEATURED IMAGE: GOALSCORER DANTE MARINI CELEBRATES WITH HIS TEAMMATES AFTER SCORING HIS SIDE’S SECOND GOAL. ALL PHOTOS COURTESY ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY