A Brace from Nicque Daley and a tidy finish from Stavros Zarokostas was what put the Charleston Battery on top for their third win from four games as the Black and Yellow took care of Loudoun United by a score of 3-0.
Zarokostas’ goal came first following a half clearance coming from the pressure of Ben Di Rosa, before the attacker would take aim from outside of the box and arrow his shot toward goal, and his shot beat the goalkeeper before pinging off the post and finding its way in.
Nicque Daley came in for Zeiko Lewis as one of the number of changes that manager Mike Anhaeuser made following a midweek loss to Charlotte, and the striker repaid the boss by providing his first two goals of the campaign. The first came on 35′, when good build up play fell to Joel Bunting, who laid the ball off into the striker, who was initially denied before getting the rub of the green to give his side some insurance.
His second goal was similar, when he found the ball at his feet after a double save by the goalkeeper, made his way past a defender and scoring the goal that would eventually seal the deal for the Black and Yellow.
Ben Di Rosa got the start after coming off the bench against Charlotte, following some injury trouble in the past few weeks, while goalscorers Daley and Zarokostas made their third and fifth starts of the season respectively. AJ Paterson would play at center back after beginning the early part of the campaign as a wing back in a 3-5-2.
Despite the scoreline, it was Loudoun who began the better of the two sides, Robby Dambrot sending a header over the bar from a corner after just eight minutes.
Kimarni Smith, on loan from Loudoun’s parent club, DC United, would also begin brightly, He would do his best to capitalize on a mistake by Kuzminsky, trying to chip the ‘keeper, but his shot went wide.
And then, on 16′, Ben Di Rosa went on pressing duty trying to intercept a pass back to the goalkeeper at the other end, but the ball would be cleared, but would find its way to Stavros Zarokostas, who would take a shot on the half turn and ping the ball in off the inside of the left post, getting the luck of the bounce as the ball would find its way into the net.
It was a wonderful goal from Zarokostas, who had been quiet in his first few appearances of the season, but now had the distinction of being the player who scored the 10,000th goal in USL history.
Just three minutes after the goal, in the 19th minute, Abdoul Amoustapha forced a save from distance by Kuzminsky in goal, forcing a corner that was eventually cleared.
The Battery were then suddenly under pressure, and on 28′, Joe Kuzminsky was beaten after Loudoun made their way down the left through Darluis Paz. The striker would chip Kuzminsky, but great defensive play by Ben Di Rosa to clear the ball off the line would keep the Black and Yellow in front.
Loudoun would live to regret the missed chance, and on 35, the build up play from the Battery eventually would find the feet of Joel Bunting, who laid off for Nicque Daley, whose initial shot was blocked, but he stayed with the play, fashioning his own space and shooting again and getting the luck for his persistence, as the ball took a slight deflection and found its way into the net.
This was Daley’s first goal of the season after his own slow start to the campaign, and his celebration matched as his teammates surrounded him to celebrate.
And that’s how the first half finished. The Battery in a good position after the insurance goal. They needed a good performance following such a poor result in midweek, and they responded.
And on the other side of the break, after 52′, Zarokostas would force another save out of the goalkeeper when he would go down the left wing, keeping a ball in on the touch line, and as the goalkeeper expected a cross, the striker tried to fake his opponent out by shooting at the near post, and was denied before the ball was cleared.
Not long after, a give and go after a throw in from Patrick Hogan and Logan Gdula, Zarokostas would again force a save from distance, and Nicque Daley would pick up the rebound, but shoot wide off the bounce.
Robbie Crawford would have a go from outside the box on 61′, but Jermaine Fordah in goal would make the save to his left and deny Stavros Zarokostas on the rebound, but Nicque Daley would move past a covering defender and fire in for 3-0.
The goalkeeper had to be furious at his defense having made two solid saves, but Daley had his second of the evening as the Battery seemed as they had themselves the three points.
But that wasn’t the end of proceedings, Bolivar at the other end would provide for Paz, who would aim for goal, but the effort went just wide.
On 73′, Abdellatif Aboukoura would rise highest from a corner, which looked destined to give his team a life line, but between Ben Di Rosa and substitute Burke Fahling, the Battery were able to clear.
The home side then did their best to take the sting out of the game, and soon the referee blew the final whistle, giving the Battery their third win in four, and second over Loudoun of 2021.
The win was needed for the Black and Yellow, coming off such a disheartening result in midweek, and perhaps the changes to the XI were also needed for a slightly jaded attack. Two players scoring their first goals of the season, and scoring more than twice in a game for the first time in 2021 will surely give the Battery trust in their depth as the season goes on.
The season now goes into a series of tough contests, beginning on Friday, July 2nd as the Battery travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Kick Off is scheduled for 7:30, and the match will be available to stream on ESPN+.
TOP IMAGE: BATTERY TEAMMATES PILE ON NICQUE DALEY AFTER THE STRIKER SCORES HIS SECOND GOAL OF THE NIGHT. PHOTO CREDIT ROSS ALMERS PHOTOGRAPHY AND DESIGN