BY JOHN ACE
Two early goals from the home side Harrisburg gave the Battery a mountain to climb before the Islanders added another midway through the first half. They then put the game to bed early in the second half before Jarad Van Schaik pulled a goal back late to earn a consolation.
The Battery had two early chances, which they couldn’t put away. The Islanders began to control play after they settled quickly, scoring with their first attack through Jimmy McLaughlin, who controlled a cross from the left with a neat touch, turning, and firing past Odisnel Cooper in goal.
It was certainly not the start the Battery had hoped for, especially after the poor display in their last away match in Charlotte, before coming home to play Richmond only to have the match postponed due to lightning.
The misery would mount only three minutes later, when a free-kick from Islanders’ midfielder Jose Barri outside the box was curled in past Cooper to double the home side’s lead. Some serious problems seemed to be involved in defending the set piece, as the four-man wall hardly jumped to block the ball’s way to goal. The goalkeeper Cooper looked to have seen the ball late as he drifted across goal and was forced to stop abruptly, only to pick the ball out of his net.
And so the Battery were 2-0 down before the game had even hit the 25 minute mark, and the visitors never looked to even get off to any sort of start at all.
The Battery continued to look off key as the Islanders extended their lead in the 21st minute. This time it was a ball down the center which fell to Morgan Langley latched on to, and had a shot. The initial shot was saved well by Cooper, but momentum carried the ball back toward the striker, and the ball hit him in the midriff and rolled into the net in a moment of hard luck for the goalkeeper.
And to make things worse for the Battery stopper, he was injured after the collision with Langley as he dived to get the shot away, and as the home side celebrated the goal, Cooper was receiving treatment for an apparent ankle sprain.
Cooper’s injury meant that back up ‘keeper Eric Shannon would come on as a sub, making only his second appearance in the league this season, the first being a start against Rochester, with two other previous starts in the US Open Cup.
The rest of the first half was played at a relatively easy pace for the home side, with almost no clear cut chances for either side as the Islanders were apparently content to keep possession and let the Battery chase the ball.
The resistance that Battery manager Mike Anheuser drew up was a half-time substitution in the form of Heviel Cordoves, who came on for John Wilson, and seems to the card to play when his side need a vital goal.
Despite the change, the bleeding continued. The half started well for the Battery, as the away side earned a free kick outside the box. Andre Lewis played a ball in to defender Colin Falvey, who played the ball across the face of goal to Shawn Ferguson, who forced a class save from Islanders ‘keeper Noble.
However, committing so many men forward left the Battery open to the counter, and Matt Bahner in Harrisburg’s midfield sprung free, getting into the box, rounding Shannon in goal and completing the Battery’s misery by making it 4-0.
Late in the game, as an obvious sign of frustration, midfielder Andre Lewis was sent off for apparent dissent toward the referee. Making his fourth start in a row for the Battery, he’s now suspended for the next match against Charlotte on the 12th of July.
Despite being a man down, the Battery would earn some consolation four minutes from time. A Harrisburg defender handled the ball in the box after tripping over himself and falling on the ball trying to make a clearance, touching the ball with his hand on the way down, and the ref pointed to the penalty spot.
Jarad Van Schaik would step up to take the spot kick, which Noble in goal got a hand to, but the ball would sneak past him into the net to give the Battery a semblance of consolation.
That’s how the game ended, with the Battery licking their wounds once again as the hunt for a playoff berth continues to look bleak.
Thankfully the Battery get a full break of seven days between this and their next fixture, and the advantage of a home tie against rivals Charlotte on July 12th.