Battery Shut Out Charlotte 2-0 in First Leg of the Southern Derby
CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Battery blanked the Independence 2-0 Friday night in front of an electrified Patriots Point crowd of nearly 3,000 strong. An early penalty save by Joe Kuzminsky and goals from Nicque Daley and Joel Bunting proved to be the difference-maker in securing three points for the Black and Yellow. The victory is the second straight for the Battery at Patriots Point. The win pushes the Battery ahead of Charlotte in the Atlantic Division table and secures a three-point lead in the supporter-led Southern Derby Cup.
The first half ended in a scoreless stalemate, with two key moments of note preserving the level terms. The first arrived in the 26th minute when Battery goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky saved a penalty kick awarded to Charlotte. The penalty came after Charlotte’s Adam Armour drew a foul inside the 18-yard box. Sylvain Marveaux took the shot for the Independence, but his left-footed strike from the spot was saved by Kuzminsky and the scoreless match was preserved.
The second moment came when the Battery caught Charlotte on the counter attack and Nicque Daley provided Charleston’s closest shot of the half. The build up started when Zeiko Lewis stopped Charlotte’s movement in the Battery defensive third. Lewis then found Claudio Repetto to progress the possession. Repetto hit Romario Piggott on the move before Piggott passed the ball off to a charging Daley. Nicque squared himself up to the ball, but his strike went right to the waiting arms of Charlotte goalkeeper Brandon Million. As a whole, both the Battery and Independence were even at three shots apiece through the first 45 minutes.
The second half started with Daley picking up where he left off, applying pressure against the Charlotte defense. Nicque broke the game open in the 53rd minute with a play he both started and finished. The progression began when Daley dispossessed the Independence in the Battery defensive third and then hit Lewis on a long through ball to the Battery’s attacking end. Zeiko won the race to the pass and returned the favor to Nicque, crossing it to Daley at the edge of the box. From there, the Jamaican forward powered home a shot that was too much for Miller’s to stop, giving the Battery a 1-0 lead.
Charlotte would remain resolute despite the deficit, as the visitors began to apply ample pressure to the Battery defense in search of an equalizer. Charlotte’s Valentín Sabella provided a shot from a dangerous spot in the 69th minute but was denied by Kuzminsky. Blake Pope provided another attempt in the 83rd minute but the shot went high and wide. The match was put away in stoppage time by Joel Bunting, who received a long and towering pass from Kuzminsky on a goal kick. Bunting was the quickest to the ball and giving it a perfect chip over Miller to double the Battery lead and effectively put the game out of reach.
Battery Head Coach Michael Anhaeuser was pleased with his team’s performance in securing the victory.
”We played a good team and had to battle,” said Anhaeuser. “[Charlotte] beat us three-nothing in the first two games, but [our] guys came back and did a tremendous job defending. Then Nicque [Daley] and Joel Bunting getting the goals they did to put it away was absolutely fantastic.”
The result helped avenge the previous two meetings against the Independence and provided a leg-up for the Battery in the Southern Derby, which will be decided in the fourth and final regular season Charleston-Charlotte match.
”[The Independence] kind of took us the first two games and the guys wanted to get even, this is the first step, and then we have to win the next one too,” said Anhaeuser. “The Cup makes it even more special, I know it adds something more. We’ll talk about it now because it’s a two-game series and obviously we have to go do the job [in Charlotte].”
Battery goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky, who earned the fan-voted Man of the Match, provided a key save on a Charlotte penalty in the first half that preserved the scoreless terms.
”You know I just go in and do what’s best for the team and if that requires saving a PK, then I’ll do that,” said Kuzminsky. “It was a chippy, sloppy game, but sometimes you just have to grind it out and that’s what we did to come away with the win.”
The team will now look to build on this home win and create momentum into the second half of the season.
”This was a big one, every game that we play from here on out is a big one,” said Kuzminsky. “To get back at these guys after what they did to us on our opening night and what they did to us on their field, it feels really good to get three points and a shutout.”
The Battery will hit the road for the next two matches, starting with a July 27 meeting with Loudoun United FC followed by a visit to Riccardo Silva Stadium to face Miami FC on August 1. Charleston will return to Patriots Point on August 6 to take on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC.