Battery Pull Away from NCFC, Claim Southern Derby
CARY, N.C. – Three second-half goals sent the Charleston Battery to victory against North Carolina FC on Wednesday night, earning the South Carolina club the spoils in the 20th edition of the Southern Derby at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Looking to return to the playoff positions in Group G, North Carolina opened well and almost took the lead in the 11th minute when a cross from the right by cross from the right by Ben Speas was just flicked over the crossbar by a header from Daniele Proch in the center of the penalty area. Proch went close again in the 16th minute as Battery goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky was unable to cleanly gather a through-ball into the penalty area, but Proch’s shot on the rebound was blocked away to safety by Leland Archer.
Charleston took longer to threaten, and A.J. Paterson had a low shot in the 20th minute saved comfortably in the 21st minute by NCFC goalkeeper Alex Tambakis after Robbie Crawford’s cross from the right found the Grenada international alone at the far edge of the penalty area. Three minutes before halftime, however, the Battery almost took the lead as Nicque Daley broke forward on a counterattack, beat his defender, but couldn’t send a finish past Tambakis as the Greek shot-stopper came up with a big save.
Daley threatened inside the opening minute of the second half, but after being played into the right side of the penalty area his finish was again denied by Tambakis. Charleston found the breakthrough 11 minutes into the second half, though, as Zeiko Lewis found space on the right and delivered an angled cross that picked out Romario Piggott at the back post for a close-range finish back across goal into the right corner of the net.
Paterson almost added a second for the Battery in the 68th minute as a good move down the right saw Daley center for Mauro Cichero, who made one pass further to Paterson in the left side of the penalty area, but his low finish was too close to Tambakis. Off the ensuing corner, however, Charleston struck again as the ball was recycled off a near-post corner to Crawford on the left, and his deep cross to the back post was headed back into the six-yard area by Paterson to offer Daley the simplest of finishes.
The Battery added a third with nine minutes to go as a fortunate deflection on a pass upfield set up perfectly for Stavros Zarokostas, who broke into the left side of the penalty area and finished low at the near post. That would ice the victory for the Battery and keep the Southern Derby Cup in their hands for another season.