Saturday Charlotte's Ramblewood stadium played host to the 2nd match of the 2016 Southern Derby Cup, as the Battery took on the Charlotte Independence. Charleston opened up this year's derby last week, with a victory at home over Wilmington.
Charlotte entered the match looking to avenge the last meeting between the two clubs, which saw the Battery end the Independence's 2015 playoff hopes.
The frustrations came early and often for the Battery Saturday, as they once again failed to find their groove on the road. The injury bug undoubtedly contributed to Charleston's performance, with training knocks sidelining Mikel Chang, Ricky Garbanzo, and Heviel Cordoves.
Chang's presence at midfield was sorely missed as the Battery looked sloppy in possession against a well organized Charlotte defense, unable to find any quality chances in the attacking 3rd.
It didn't take the Independence long to capitalize on the Battery's struggles, taking a 1-0 in the 26th, after David Estrada earned a penalty off of contact with Shawn Ferguson.
The Battery responded quickly to the Jacks' goal, as Justin Portillo delivered a dangerous ball to Ferguson at the back post. Then came a bit of controversy. Initially the referee pointed to the penalty spot indicating that Ferguson had been fouled, but the penalty was waived after the assistant found Ferguson to be offsides before the foul was committed.
Just a few moments later the Independence struck again, after a rebounded ball off the crossbar fell to Brian Brown who blasted a shot between Mueller and Ferguson finding the net. Brown's goal gave the Jack's a 2-0 lead, capping a dominant 1st half performance that saw the Independence outshoot the Battery 10-1.
Charleston showed promise early in the 2nd half looking much more organized on the attack. Ataullah Guerra, who made his 2nd start at forward in place of an injured Ricky Garbanzo, found the Battery's first shot on goal in the 49th minute skipping a lackluster shot straight to the keeper.
The Battery continued to look strong finding the bulk of possession through the the opening 20 minutes of the 2nd half.
Midfielder Zach Prince nearly got the Battery on the board in the 63rd, making a dangerous run in close to the near post managing to get by the keeper, but defender Joel Johnson made a desperate clearance blocking Prince's shot.
The Jack's then made what would turn out to be the key substitution of the match as Jorge Herrera checked in for Martinez.
Herrera wasted no time making his presence felt, intercepting a careless ball by Ferguson in the 70th minute. Herrera then scored Charlotte's 3rd goal of the night using an impressive display of footwork to get by Emmanuel Adjetey and striking a beautiful ball just out of reach of a diving Alex Tambakis.
Despite facing a demoralizing 3-0 deficit the Battery managed to keep things interesting late in the match, as Romario Williams scored his 3rd goal of the season in the 76th minute.
Just as it seemed the momentum may have shifted in their favor, yet another controversial call saw Battery midfielder Zach Prince sent off with a red card.
The short-handed Battery appeared undeterred by the sending off, making multiple threats on goal. The push paid off in the 85th minute as Dante Marini drew a Charlotte foul in the penalty area, allowing Portillo to pick up a goal off the Penalty.
The late rally would eventually fall short as the Battery failed to find an equalizer, falling 3-2. The loss is Charleston's 1st on the season dropping them to 2nd in the Eastern Conference.
KEY TAKE AWAYS
An uncharacteristic performance defensively for the Battery. The back four had no answers for the Jack's attack.
Injuries may have been the driving factor behind the Battery's poor performance. Down 2 forwards and a midfielder, Charleston had to shuffle the XI, throwing off the chemistry that has been key to their success so far this season.
ROAD BLUES CONTINUE
If the first 2 away games are any indication, it may be another long season on the road for the Battery.
@ Bethlehem Steel FC, Sat. 4/24 3:00PM