It was a tale of two halves in the first of three Southern Derbies this season at Transamerica Field Saturday night. Second-half goals from Romario Williams and Forrest Lasso helped the Battery to a 2-0 win over their North Carolina rivals.
Playing their USL season opener, Charlotte came out the better of the two sides. The Independence outshot the Battery eight to one in the first half and had the majority of the possession.
Jorge Herrera created one of Charlotte’s best chances of the match in the 18th minute, turning a Battery defender and firing a shot towards Alex Tambakis’ right post. The Atlanta United loanee made a diving save, showing a strong right hand to push the ball around the post and keep the score level.
Despite the dominance from the home side, the two teams headed into the break tied at zero, giving Battery Head Coach Mike Anhaeuser a chance to right the ship. With Anhaeuser’s encouragement, Charleston came out pressing for an opening goal early in the second half.
The Battery had their best scoring chance up to that point in the match in the 64th minute when Justin Portillo sprang Neveal Hackshaw loose down the right flank. Hackshaw drove at Charlotte’s goal and slotted a driven cross on the ground to Williams on the back post, but the Jamaican center forward couldn’t turn it on frame.
Williams didn’t hang his head after the missed chance and converted the next one that fell his way. Charleston broke the deadlock when Dante Marini collected a loose ball just outside the penalty area and found Williams. The powerful center forward turned with the ball near the penalty spot, holding off two defenders, and fired a shot past goalkeeper Cody Mizell.
The Battery doubled their lead seven minutes later through the now-familiar connection of Portillo and Forrest Lasso on a set piece. Portillo swung a free kick into the 18-yard box where an unmarked Lasso headed the ball in at the near post.
Charleston’s defense closed out the match with the two-goal advantage. The back four, made up of Taylor Mueller, Quinton Griffith, Mikey Ambrose, and Lasso, were strong throughout the 90 minutes, limiting Charlotte to very few real scoring opportunities and earning the team’s first shutout.
The Battery sits atop the Eastern Conference standings after two matches with six points. Charleston will return home to MUSC Health Stadium next Saturday, April 8th, for a match against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds who lost, 1-0, earlier this evening to FC Cincinnati.
CHARLESTON BATTERY - Alex Tambakis, Quinton Griffith, Taylor Mueller, Forrest Lasso (yellow card, 32nd; goal 77th) Mikey Ambrose, Maikel Chang (Jeffery Otoo, 70th), Neveal Hackshaw, Justin Portillo, Dante Marini, Ataulla Guerra (Tah Brian Anunga, 88th) , Romario Williams (goal, 70th; Heviel Cordoves, 81st)
Unused substitutes - Odisnel Cooper, Nico Rittmeyer, Skylar Thomas, Ricky Garbanzo
CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE - Cody Mizell, Bilal Duckett (yellow card, 52nd) (Dennis Castillo, 76) , Luke Waechter, Henry Kalungi, Joel Johnson (yellow card, 42nd), Callum Ross (yellow card, 68th), Yann Ekra, Jorge Herrera, Lewis Hilton (Casey Townsend, 76th), Alex Martinez, David Estrada (David Spies, 69th)
Unused substitutes - Kainor Likewise, Zev Taublieb, Jared Odenbeck