The Charleston Battery lost by a score of four goals to one
to the Richmond Kickers in the opening game of the USL PRO season on Saturday
night at City Stadium. The Battery conceded twice in each half and could
only reply with one goal of their own as they suffered their heaviest defeat at
the hands of Richmond since 1996.
Charleston's last USL PRO game was the championship match versus the Wilmington Hammerheads that saw the Battery claim a fourth title in September of last year. It was a lackluster performance by the defending champions though as the Battery failed to find the attacking rhythm that had seen them go undefeated in a long unbeaten pre-season run that extended back to late February.
Richmond opened the scoring in the 23rd minute after midfielder Alex Lee played in a deep cross from the left side. Forward Joseph Ngwenya peeled away from his marker and looped a header over Battery goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper.
The Kickers doubled their advantage in the 32nd minute after some good wing play by Brian Ownby that saw him get past defender Taylor Mueller to the goal-line. Ownby squared the ball across and Casey Townsend tapped in the finish from close range.
The Battery responded with a spell of pressure and forward Jose Cuevas felt he should have been awarded a penalty-kick in the 39th minute after he was brought down in the box. Despite vociferous protests from the Battery players the referee, Mark Gorak waived play on.
Charleston finally pulled a goal back in the 45th minute after an outstanding play from veteran defender John Wlson. Wilson dribbled downfield with the ball then played a quick one-two pass with midfielder Mike Azira. Wilson collected the return pass and drilled a shot past Richmond goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra into the bottom right corner.
Charleston almost leveled in the 55th minute in perhaps the defining moment of the game. After controlling play for the first ten minutes of the second half the Battery carved out a good chance for Paterson at the edge of the box. Paterson hit a clean strike that whistled towards the goal but the ball struck the inside of the post and cannoned away to safety.
Thoughts of a come-back faded ten minutes later as Richmond added a third goal after some generous defending. Substitute forward Stanley Nyazamba cut the ball back to Townsend who scored on the second attempt after miss-hitting his first shot.
The Battery continued to look for a way back but were unable to break down a resilient Richmond defense. Insult was added to injury in the closing moments as Battery defender Cody Ellison turned the ball into his own net to gift Richmond a fourth goal.
The Battery returns to Blackbaud Stadium next Saturday night for the 2013 Home Opener versus Antigua Barracuda FC (7:30 PM).