Battery rookie winger Dante Marini dispatched a good-looking cross into the Carolina Railhawks box in the second half of Thursday’s friendly match.
And it just kept going — right into the back of the net for the 1-1 equalizer and the game’s final score.
At least three players — from both teams — looked to have a good shot at redirecting Marini’s descending pass. But it appeared to skim past those attempts and wound up settling just inside the far post. It might have touched an opposing player at the line, but if any contact occurred it wasn’t enough to deflect the trajectory of the ball.
The Railhawks — who wore orange practice jerseys without numbers and played some people who don’t yet appear on their team’s web roster — opened the scoring earlier in the second half when an accurate cross found a teammate perched in front of the Battery goal.
Charleston opened the game with a starting lineup of Eric Shannon in goal, Quinton Griffin at left back, Jackson Farmer and Shawn Ferguson at centerback, Taylor Mueller at right back, Justin Portillo above Aminu Abdallah in central midfield, and Marlon Ramirez and Marini out wide on the right and left sides, respectively. Mamadou Diouf and Maikel Chang started at forward, with Chang working mostly from a withdrawn position.
The Railhawks controlled the pace and tone of the match in the early going, but despite possessing the ball well in the Battery half of the field, got off few actual attempts. Marini generated much of the Battery attack, setting up Diouf and Portillo for shots. But the Battery’s best chance might have been a counter-attack that ended when a Railhawks player pulled Marini down in the penalty area. The referee made no call on the play, which began with a clever Marini steal at the midstripe.
Chang made one eye-popping individual play to threaten the Railhawks’ keeper, slashing between defenders with the ball at his feet, but his shot was blocked.
Charleston returned in the second half with Odisnel Cooper in goal, Mueller at left back, Colin Falvey and Ferguson in the center, with Farmer on the right. Griffin moved up to left midfield, with Adam Mena taking over on the right and Jarad van Schaik joining Portillo centrally. Diouf continued at forward, but was joined by Dane Kelly.
Kelly looked dangerous at times, slashing through gaps in the defense, but earned a yellow card for dissent and came off the field after taking a pounding around the six-yard box. He’s been nursing a strained hamstring ever since March 1, and though he’s scrimmaged with teammates, this was his first game action since the loss to Houston Dynamo. Heviel Cordoves and Ramirez finished out the match at forward, and fellow striker Austin Savage subbed in late for Portillo.
In general the Battery played more effectively in the second half. There were far more possession passes than the team played against Richmond, an issue that Coach Mike Anhaeuser said would be a point of emphasis in training this week.
Zach Prince and Michael Kafari sat this one out on the team bench, and I don’t believe Whitecaps rookie Andre Lewis checked in, either. Amadou Sanyang watched from the stands with Omar Salgado, who got good news from the scans of his injured foot.
The Railhawks open their NASL season against the expansion Indy Eleven on April 12, when the Battery travel to Orlando for the first of two away matches against the Lions this season. Charleston will play five of its next six matches on the road.
One of the spectators in the stands at Blackbaud Stadium was midfielder Ralph Lundy III, who attended with his father, College of Charleston Coach Ralph Lundy Jr. The younger Lundy played professionally in the Trinidad and Tobago Premier league this season, the first step in a comeback from an ACL injury he incurred while on trial with the Battery in the spring of 2013. Lundy is recently arrived in Charleston after spending the winter in the Caribbean.
TOP IMAGE: Battery rookie Dante Marini was a disruptive force against Carolina, and scored the Battery’s equalizer when his right-footed cross fooled everyone and dropped in at the far post. Dan Conover photos.