Goals from Taylor Mueller and Dante Marini were enough to wrap up all three points for the Charleston Battery on Wednesday, as they ran out 2-1 winners against Loudon United.
Taylor Mueller opened the scoring with a flicked header from a Romario Piggott corner, before a perfectly timed Kotaro Higashi through ball found Dante Marini, who used his pace to get beyond his marker and slot it home, which was eventually enough to seal the points despite Orlando Sinclair pulling one back 12 minutes from time.
The visitors started on the front foot after just four minutes, with Higashi starting the buildup with a great pass to Piggott, who eventually found striker Attaula Guerra free with a pinpoint cross, though his effort went high of the bar.
Higashi was able to force Loudon ‘keeper Chris Seitz into his first save of the evening shortly after, when he combined with eventual goalscorer Marini and was able to create enough space to get a shot off, but Seitz was able to get behind it.
Former Battery player Gordon Wild would have a chance from a free kick following a handball roughly 25 yards and central to the goal, but the effort would go wide.
After 14 minutes, Attaula Guerra would be denied by the linesman’s flag, as he was able to put the ball in the back of the net, only to be adjudged to have been offside.
Kyle Nelson put in an impressive shift before going off due to injury in the second half, but after 18′, he would force a corner that would eventually find the foot of AJ Paterson, but be deflected out for another.
This time, it was Taylor Mueller who would get a skimmed header to the ball from service at the front post by Romario Piggott, with his effort finding the far corner and putting his team ahead.
It was deserved from the run of play, and Mueller’s first goal of the season, which was surprising given his knack for getting on the end of corners, but nonetheless, he would’ve been happy to have his team in front.
After a hydration break, on 37′, Gordon Wild would again have a chance from a set piece, but Phil Breno, making his first league start for the Black and Yellow, would be equal to it.
Angelo Kelly would have an opportunity following a fortuitous bounce off of the referee, though his shot from outside of the box went high and wide of Seitz’s goal.
And that would be the half time whistle. The Battery certainly had the better of play in the first half, but would have to make their dominance count if they expected to get the three points.
Loudon made a half time substitution, with Carlos Alvarez replacing John Murphy as they looked to press the Battery backline a bit harder, with Alvarez a more attacking option than the conservative Murphy.
Battery goalscorer Mueller was forced to clear a decent looking cross behind for a corner after 49′, which would find the head of a Loudon attacker, though it was straight at Phil Breno in goal.
Dante Marini would find space shortly after, maneuvering his way expertly around two defenders before earning his side a corner before he could get a shot off, but it was cleared from danger.
But then, just past the hour mark, Kotaro Higashi would lead a storming counter down the middle before finding Marini in space on the left, as Marini sped past his man before firing a shot into the far corner with his left peg to give his side a 2-0 lead.
This was the insurance the Battery had been craving, and despite Loudon looking a much more organized unit in the second 45, the Battery used the pace of their attack to exploit their opponents on the counter.
Following the goal, Nicque Daley would replace Attaula Guerra, whose night’s work had included some good efforts, but who was still getting back to full match fitness after his late start to the season.
But Daley was straight into the action. In buildup eerily similar to the goal, Higashi would again lead the break after 68′, this time passing to the substitute, who powered a shot toward goal. But this time, Seitz between the sticks for Loudon would make the save, as the score remained 2-0.
Daley again would cause problems on 72′, when he received the ball on the left before leaving a defender for dead and opening up his body for a shot toward the far post, and after Chris Seitz’s initial save, the ball would fall into the path of Romario Piggott from roughly six yards out, but he was unable to control his effort as the shot went over the bar.
The game would become increasingly stretched following Piggott’s miss, which suited the hosts, who were in search of a goal.
After piling on the pressure, it would tell by way of the ‘keeper Breno, who fumbled a cross into the path of substitute striker, Orlando Sinclair, who simply had to control his header in order to pull one back, and he did so.
The goal set up a frantic finish, in which Loudon did most of the attacking, in search of the equalizer as the Battery struggled to keep their foot on the ball to grasp what would’ve been only their third away win of the year.
This was in serious danger deep in stoppage time, of which there was six minutes following injuries to both Kyle Nelson and Romario Piggott, when the Battery were unable to clear a cross from the right that would eventually be knocked down, and two different Loudon shots would be blocked, but not cleared, before Breno would be forced into an all important save down to his left that would eventually secure the three points for his side.
And the three points would mean a birthday present for manager Mike Anhaeuser, who celebrated his 50th birthday the day before the match, on August 13th.
The Battery’s previous match, away to St. Louis, coupled with this result, were probably the two best away performances of the season, and though there is much to improve on, particularly in being clinical in front of goal when the game sways in your favor, something the Battery have lacked at home or away in 2019, the building blocks are there for the game plan going forward.
The Battery next face Louisville City at MUSC Health Stadium on Saturday, August 17th, with kick off scheduled for 7:30.
TOP IMAGE: EVENTUAL GAME WINNER DANTE MARINI CELEBRATES A PREVIOUS GOAL THIS SEASON. PHOTO CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY