A late first half goal from Romario Piggott helped give the Charleston Battery their first win in four games, despite playing for nearly half an hour with ten men against Indy Eleven.
The Battery started off the better team, creating a few half chances, though former Battery player Dane Kelly will rue two guilt edged opportunities to open the scoring before Piggott would finish a magnificent solo run with a powerful near post drive with five minutes left in the first half.
Kyle Nelson would receive his marching orders for a second bookable offense midway through the second half, but the Battery’s defense would remain staunch to give the Black and Yellow all three points.
The Battery came out looking dangerous, but two early set pieces both came to nothing, before good buildup around the area would eventually lead to a shot from just outside the box from Jarad van Schaik that went high over the bar.
And then, on 15′, Dane Kelly would have his first effort of the match, going through on goal with only Joe Kuzminsky to beat, with the goalkeeper palming his effort away. Kelly would save the effort from going out for a corner before providing a cross toward the back post, where Kuzminsky would have to deny a diving header at the back post.
After 26′, Kyle Nelson was booked for a foul just outside the Battery box as he tried to lead his team up the field. The card seemed harsh in the sense that it was given after Nelson was already past his man, but a free kick was given, nonetheless.
The game lulled into an ebb and flow of both teams feeling each other out, trying to find space, when, on 33′, a long ball came down the middle of the park and would cause a mixup between the onrushing ‘keeper Kuzminsky and his backtracking captain Taylor Mueller, leading to a collision that allowed Dane Kelly to steal in, but with an open goal, he shot wide.
But then, on 41′, it was from an Indy Eleven corner that Romario Piggott would brush off his man and launch a Battery counter attack, with Vincenzo Candela in support. He beat the last man to go one on one with Evan Newton, and though the easier option looked to be to pass, he was able to fire home at the near post to put his team ahead.
It was a magnificent run, and Piggott’s third on the season was perhaps his best yet, giving his team an all important lead so close to the break.
Shortly after though, there was a shout for a penalty down at the other end, with Kelly going free on the right of the 18-yard box, but the referee would adjudge that the on rushing Kuzminsky got to the ball before Kelly went over.
A free kick would be given in Indy’s favor in first half stoppage time, but though it looked initially worrying for the Battery, it would go wide, before the whistle would blow for half time.
The Battery would go in at the break pleased. They bent, but did not break defensively and found that opening goal, something that has been somewhat allusive to them at times this season, with a tendency to start games well, but get nothing to show for it before retreating and allowing pressure. They knew they would have to be at their best to get anything out of the second half, and looked ready to take on the challenge.
However, it was the visitors who would have the first chance of the second 45. Karl Ouimette would rise highest to meet a corner, but his effort went wide of the Battery goal.
On 49,’ Ian Svantesson would twist and turn his way into an opportunity, though his eventual effort from just inside the box looked to be blocked by a hand, and the goalscorer Piggott was unable to pick up the pieces to double his sides’ advantage.
A Matt Watson shot from distance would have Joe Kuzminsky worried on 53′, but the effort would go wide of the target.
And then, on 57′, Kyle Nelson would receive his marching orders. A challenge for the ball would happen on the right and involve Nelson and an Indy attacker both going in with their feet high. Nelson came off the better of the two, the attacker lying on the ground injured following the collision, and the referee deeming the challenge a second bookable offense.
You could see why the red was given. The feet were high, though the foul could’ve also been given both ways as both players were making the same challenge, but the referee saw more intent in Nelson’s attempt to win the ball, and he was sent for an early bath.
Despite this, the Battery would continue to create. After 69′, a Battery free kick would be cleared away, but would eventually fall into the path of goalscorer Romario Piggott, whose eyes lit up in search of a second goal, but he would push his effort across goal wide.
After 76′, an Indy Eleven corner would be headed on at the back post only for Joe Kuzminsky to fall on the ball and claim.
And deep in stoppage time, a corner for the visitors would be their final attempt. It was headed on from the right at the back post, and despite a mad scramble to win the ball, Joe Kuzminsky would pounce to help his side survive. There was a bit of a skirmish following the take, but the full time whistle would blow shortly after, giving the home side all three points.
In the end, the Battery dug deep. After just three clean sheets in their previous matches this season, the Black and Yellow now have two in two matches, an important stat if they aim to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Battery next travel to Kansas to play Swope Park Rangers on Wednesday, September 11th. Kick off is at 8PM.
FEATURED IMAGE COURTESY ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY AND DESIGN