BY JOHN ACE
The Regiment travelled to Wilmington hoping to watch their team pick up another win to all but lock in a Playoff berth. However, that didn’t come to pass as the Battery fell to Wilmington 2-1 in a tight, physical game away from home.
The first half started brightly for the home side, with numerous early chances having to be cleared away by the Battery defense. With so many chances falling Wilmington’s way, it seemed like a matter of time before our defense would crumble, but after the first fifteen minutes, the battle ventured towards midfield and the game became more tight, and even a little dirty as both sides fought for the bulk of the possession.
It continued on in that fashion until, on 39 minutes, Wilmington got the breakthrough. After an initial scramble after the ball went straight through the box, the Battery struggled to clear the danger, and defender Cody Ellison’s clearance fell back to an on-rushing Hammerheads player, before it was passed to Hammerheads striker Kevin Grieg, who beat Odisnel Cooper and made it 1-0 to the home side.
The Battery didn’t let their heads drop and had the better play for the last 5 minutes of the 1st half, fashioning a chance through the in-
form Jose Cuevas, who latched onto a poor Wilmington clearance, spun, and shot the ball narrowly wide right.
And that’s how the teams went in at half-time. The Battery were playing a lot of long balls in the first half, which seemed easy for Wilmington to pick up and deal with, and a few passes, strung together, along with some extra urgency, seemed to be in order.
Sadly for Charleston though, the trend continued, and as the 2nd half went on, both sides started getting more and more physical, with the Battery fighting for more possession in order to push for that equalizer.
The physicality came to a head in the 56th minute, when a late challenge from Dane Kelly on a Wilmington led to both teams converging just past midfield in a scuffle that led to the Battery’s Antiguan Winger Quentin Griffith receiving his marching orders for defending his teammate after a Wilmington player got in Kelly’s face.
Usually, if there’s a fight between the two teams, both instigators from the sides are sent off. Tonight, according to the referee and his assistants, this wasn’t the case, and the Battery were left with ten men, while numerous other players were booked.
The Battery then began to make some quickfire subs in order to make up for being down a man.
After the altercation, every ball, even if it was obvious that there wasn’t a chance to be had, was being contested with grit and fire. This meant that there was a lot of fouls given, as it looked as though the referee had maybe lost control of the game.
On 74 minutes, the Battery finally had an opening from a free-kick, which was about 30 yards from goal, and all 9 outfield players crowded around the box in search of the equalizer. The ball was quickly cleared by the Wilmington defense, however, and they were soon on the counter.
The ball was played out to the wing, and the winger pushed on as we struggled to get back. It was then played through to a man close to the box, partially cleared by the on-rushing Battery defense, before being played back in to Hammers’ striker Michael Olivera who poked the ball past Odisnel Cooper into the goal and looked to put the game beyond all doubt at 2-0.
However, the goal seemed to give the Battery an extra kick going into the last 10 minutes, and they had some good play, but nothing seemed to really work as it looked increasingly likely that the Regiment were going to go home unhappy.
A spark was ignited late on, as it was announced there would be six additional minutes at the end of normal time due to the stoppage in play that led to the sending off, and another in form player for the Battery, Heviel Cordoves came through once again.
24-year old midfielder Jarad van Schaik worked hard to tackle the ball away from a Wilmington player, and then, getting up, he passed the ball to an open Nicki Paterson, who then played the ball across to Cordoves, who took a well controlled touch before firing home to make it 2-1 with a little over 2 minutes to go in added time.
The Battery then had an extra pip in their step, and they had the feeling that maybe they could snatch a point at the death, when a ball from midfield played Paterson through, but the ball was too fast for him on the turf as it rolled helplessly into the Wilmington Goalkeepers’ arms.
So, the late goal only proved to be a consolation as the score remained 2-1 until the final whistle.
The Battery come home to face a Richmond Kickers team that’s on an astonishing 24 match unbeaten run on Saturday.
TOP IMAGE: Jarad van Schaik’s hard battle in midfield brought a goal back for The Battery. (Courtesy USLPRO.COM)