BY JOHN ACE
A scrappy Maikel Chang goal opened the scoring before Jose Cuevas converted from the spot for the 2nd game in a row on Friday against the Rochester Rhinos, as the Battery continue the hunt for a playoff berth.
JC Banks would put a bit of pressure on the home side, but the Battery would hold firm in their last game of a three-match homestand in the space of just one week.
Midfielders Aminu Abdallah and Zach Prince would start in place of Adam Mena and Amadou Sanyang as fitness was a factor, having played the match in midweek, especially for Sanyang, who made his first start since coming back from injury on Tuesday against Orange County.
Despite the changes, the Battery kicked off in similar fashion as they did in midweek. creating a half chance just after seven minutes.
Zach Prince took a throw in just outside the box for Dane Kelly to run onto, and he raced his way to the byline before being pushed off the ball trying to cut back to beat the defender.
A minute later, Jose Cuevas had a free kick just outside the box from the left, but the ball sailed a bit too long before anyone could get a head to it, and Rochester Keeper John McCarthy was able to collect.
There was a scare after just nine minutes, as Maikel Chang went down after a tough challenge on the left wing, but after receiving treatment, was able to continue.
Around two minutes later, John Wilson gave the ball away on the right, and got burnt for pace, but was able to recover and close down his man at the expense of a throw in, which wasn’t conclusive.
After 17, Colin Falvey misplaced a flick back to Odisnel Cooper, which left a Rochester attacker in behind, but the one on one was won by Odisnel Cooper, and the ball was eventually cleared.
For all the good chances that Rochester had, it wasn’t too long before the deadlock was broken.
And the breakthrough came from the Battery, on 22 minutes. Zach Prince would have a throw in similar to his earlier spot, but this time, Jarad Van Schaik was making a run off the ball, and knocked the ball on with his head, which fell to Jose Cuevas, who cracked a shot first time that hit the post, but Van Schaik retrieved the ball, and whipped it across for Maikel Chang, who powered the shot at goal.
The ‘keeper dived and looked to have retrieved the ball, but the referee gave the goal, and the Battery were ahead. The goal was Chang’s third of the year, having scored once in the US Open Cup and twice in the league.
Rochester then grew into the game a little more, as they had to come at the home side in search of an equalizer, though most of the action was in midfield, as attacks from either team were being shut down or broke down before producing much of anything.
But 7 minutes from time, a through ball found its way to Dane Kelly, who squared the ball across before being taken out by the goalkeeper. The referee pointed to the penalty spot, and the Battery had their second penalty in as many games.
Jose Cuevas would then step up and fire high int0 the left upper 90, giving the Battery a little bit of insurance going into half time.
And so, for the second time in as many games, the Battery had a little bit of confidence in themselves, and knew that, if they kept the mistakes to a minimum, they would come out of the game with another win under their belt.
A halftime substitution from the Battery saw Adam Mena replace goal scorer Maikel Chang, who was injured earlier on in the match, and was probably rested so that he could stay fresh.
And just five minutes after the interval, the Battery could’ve had another goal, after a poor clearance from the Rochester defense fell to Dane Kelly, who then laid off to Zach Prince, who beat his man with a couple moves, and passed the ball to Jose Cuevas.
Cuevas made it to the byline before laying the ball back to Prince, who tried chipping the ‘keeper, and the ball went wide, before it was picked up by Substitute Adam Mena, who played the ball off his marker and out for a corner.
The subsequent corner kick from the right side was cleared after doing some pinging around in the box.
The game lulled into a steady pace after that, with the away side chasing the ball and looking more and more tired as the game progressed.
Heviel Cordoves replaced Dane Kelly just after the hour mark, with the Jamaican putting in another impressive shift, having come off two goals in two games earlier in the week, and like Chang, was probably brought off in an effort to keep him fresh.
The same goes for Jose Cuevas, who was replaced by Dante Marini just before the 75th minute. Cuevas also had a great week, scoring three goals with three assists along the way.
Amadou Sanyang also made an entrance, as he continues to recover from injury, replacing Amadou Abdallah with seven minutes to go.
But perhaps the substitutions were a bit costly, as Rochester midfielder Tony Walls let fly from the better part of 30 yards, which Odisnel Cooper in goal got down well to save.
The subsequent corner, however, gave the Battery a few worries. The ball was played in from the left and forward JC Banks rose highest to head home and decrease Rochester’s deficit.
Rochester committed almost everyone into the attack after that, which had the Battery sitting back and soaking up pressure, which they did well, and after four minutes of added time, the referee blew for full time.
The win means that the Battery continue their unbeaten run, and moving up to sixth place in the USL table, just a point off Harrisburg in fifth, as we look to consolidate a playoff spot.
The hunt for the playoffs resumes next Sunday away to the Oklahoma City Energy, away from home. The week long break will be a welcome one following the condensed schedule. Remember. you can watch the match live on Youtube.
TOP IMAGE: ROCHESTER GOALKEEPER JOHN MCCARTHY ARGUES WITH THE REFEREE AFTER HE CONCEDED A PENALTY THAT LED TO THE BATTERY’S SECOND GOAL. PHOTOS, VIN DUFFY/CHARLESTON BATTERY