The Charleston Battery defeated the LA Blues by a score of two goals to one Saturday night at Blackbaud Stadium to advance to the semifinals of the USL PRO playoffs. Dane Kelly and Mike Azira both scored as the Battery held off LA and move into the next round.
The Battery will face Orlando City next Friday night at the Florida Citrus Bowl with kick off set for 7:30 PM (Sports Radio 1450 AM).
LA put the Battery under pressure in the opening minutes and were unlucky not to take the lead in the 21st minute after Matt Fondy worked himself into a shooting position at the edge of the box. Fondy hit a right footed shot that beat Charleston goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper but cannoned back off the far post and away to safety.
Charleston fought back at the Blues and took the lead less than three minutes later after Nicki Paterson picked out forward Dane Kelly just inside the box. Kelly pulled the ball past his defender and drilled a left-footed finish into the right corner off the goal.
Cooper was called into action again in the 37th minute as Fondy tried another shot this time from outside the box. The ball came in at pace but Cooper managed to get across and tipped it wide of his left post.
Both teams traded chances after the break but it was the Battery who scored first with midfielder Mike Azira playing in Quinton Griffith behind the LA right back. Griffith squared the ball back to Azira who hammered his first-time shot into the goal to make it 2-0.
The Blues pulled a goal back in the 84th minute through substitute forward Mohammad Roknipour but the defending USL PRO champions were strong enough to hold off LA despite some late pressure and advance to the semifinal round.