Battery get 3-2 win in Harrisburg

VIDEO: Battery get win in Harrisburg
Published: May. 10, 2016 at 3:34 AM EDT
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HARRISBURG, PA - The Charleston Battery earned its first road win of the season in an explosive 3-2 thriller with the Harrisburg City Islanders Monday night at FNB Field.

After going winless in its previous four games, the victory over the long-time Eastern Conference rival was much-needed. The teams played an entertaining match battling back and forth for the entire 90 minutes.

Romario Williams opened the scoring in the 24th minute when the Battery caught Harrisburg on the counter by way of a Chris Tsonis outlet pass. Tsonis, who earned his first start of the year on Monday, sprung midfielder Maikel Chang loose down the left flank.

Chang collected the ball and looked up to see the City Islanders back four in disarray. The Cuban playmaker lofted a long ball in the direction of Williams. Harrisburg's defense was so caught out that the ball bounced inside the penalty area before the Jamaican center forward latched onto it. Williams squared up to the defender with his first touch, cut the ball onto his left foot, and smashed into the roof of the net past a diving Nick Noble. The goal was Williams fifth of the year and second on the two-game road trip.

The Battery led for the first time since the second half of its win against Wilmington on 4/9 following Williams' goal. The lead didn't last long, however, as Harrisburg found an equalizer just three minutes later. The goal was created off of a long ball out of the back that was miss-cleared by the Battery defense.

The clearance fell straight to center midfielder Jose Barril, who played a great first-time ball through to a streaking Paul Wilson. With Charleston's defense caught upfield, Wilson darted towards the penalty area unmarked. The Jamaican forward collected Barril's pass and hammered it through the legs of an on-rushing Odisnel Cooper.

After repeatedly conceding possession to the City Islanders in the early part of the opening 45 minutes, Charleston began to take charge in the final 15 minutes of the first half. The game settled down a bit and the fouls dissipated after the goals, allowing the veteran Battery squad to grow into the game and see more of the ball.

Charleston created a few dangerous chances at the end of the first half prior to Forrest Lasso's go-ahead goal in the 43rd minute.  When asked about keys to the match prior to kickoff, both coaches mentioned free kicks as being potential game-changers. Coach Anhaeuser, and his counterpart, Coach Bill Becher, were spot on with their pre-game thoughts; both of the Battery's final two goals were created from dead ball situations.

Lasso's goal was made possible after a brilliant piece of individual skill by Dante Marini. The outside midfielder received a pass from Tsonis and took a great first touch towards the end line, leaving Harrisburg left back James Thomas with no choice but to lunge for the ball. Thomas fouled Marini inches outside the penalty area to the right of the net, setting up the free kick that would lead to the goal.

Chang put the initial free kick on frame from a tight angle, but it was cleared off the line by Barril. The clearance came straight back to Chang and this time he chose to hang it high in the air toward the back of the six. Center back Shawn Ferguson did well to keep it alive, nodding it back across the face of goal. Lasso was in the right place at the right time and rose well to head the ball home and give the Battery a 2-1 lead.

The second one-goal advantage of the night would last longer slightly than the first, but would not be enough to walk out of Harrisburg with three points. Wilson and Barril linked up for the second time in the match in the 54th minute to tie the game at two.

Barril threaded a perfect through ball between Lasso and left back Emmanuel Adjetey to set Wilson free towards goal. Wilson took the pass very well, hitting the shot first time on the bounce and lofting it over Cooper who was rushing off his line to close him down.

Cooper, who earned the start Monday after spending Friday on the bench, made a great save minutes after the equalizer to keep the game even at two. The Cuban goalkeeper made himself big to deny Barril a go-ahead goal in the 56th minute.

Charleston's game-winner was scored directly from a free kick by substitute Austin Savage. The South Carolina native checked into the game in the 77th minute and scored within three minutes of checking in.

Set piece specialist Justin Portillo delivered a perfect ball from about 40 yards out, slightly to the right of the goal. The third year midfielder hit a flat, driven ball between the penalty spot and the six that fell right on Savage's foot who was making a darting run across the defense. The forward volleyed the ball first-time into the bottom corner of the goal to give Charleston the lead for the third time in the match.

Just when the result looked to be wrapped up, the fireworks started again. Harrisburg earned a penalty in the 94th minute on a phantom Shawn Ferguson foul. The penalty call was harsh to say the least. Substitute Craig Foster got the spot kick all wrong, smashing it over the bar, and effectively sending the Battery back to Charleston with a win.

Monday's result improves the Battery's overall record to 3-2-3 and its road record to 1-2-1. The win was Charleston's first in an entire month, the previous one coming against Wilmington at home on 4/9. The Battery head back to Charleston with a much-needed three points to get ready for this Saturday's match against Toronto FC II.

Kickoff for the match against TFC II is at 7:30, tickets can be purchased here. All military personnel and their families get free admission with valid ID. There will be fireworks, a t-shirt giveaway, and an auction for game-worn custom Battery jerseys. Come out and join us as the Battery looks to continue its march up the table.

Box Score:

Location: FNB Field — Harrisburg, PA

Weather: Clear

CHARLESTON BATTERY: Odisnel Cooper (yellow card, 90th), Quinton Griffith, Shawn Ferguson, Forrest Lasso (goal, 43rd; yellow card, 60th), Emmanuel Adjetey, Maikel Chang (yellow card, 45th), Zach Prince (yellow card, 72nd) (Neveal Hackshaw, 73rd), Justin Portillo, Dante Marini (O'brian Woodbine, 85th), Chris Tsonis (Austin Savage, 77th; goal, 80th), Romario Williams (goal, 24th) (Ricky Garbanzo, 57th)

Unused substitutes: Alex Tambakis, Taylor Mueller, Jose Nazareno

HARRISBURG CITY ISLANDERS: Nick Noble, Jamie Thomas (yellow card, 42nd) (Neil Shaffer, 85th), Liam Doyle, Shane Johnson (Brett Jankouskas, 85th), Shawn McLaws, Jose Barril, Bobby Warshaw (yellow card, 50th, Josh Hughes, Paul Wilson (goal, 27th), Danny DiPrimo (Craig Foster, 55th), Aaron Wheeler (Cardel Benbow, 62nd)