USL Match report

Match Report: Charleston Battery 2- 1 Bethlehem Steel

Photo: Rob Simmons

Just over one month removed from their 1-1 draw, it was an early season rematch for Bethlehem Steel with the Charleston Battery. The visiting Steel proved not up to the challenge, conceding goals to Atualla Guerra and Gordon Wild before Derrick Jones pulled one back with a penalty kick en route to a 2-1 defeat.

The Battery, riding an unbeaten streak of five matches (including three consecutive shutouts), have skyrocketed to fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Steel have had a lackluster start to the season and currently sit eleventh on the table.

First Half

The tactical set-up for both teams was a case of same old, same old. Charleston set up in their typical formation featuring three center backs, with two fullbacks to assist in defense as well as bomb up the field on counter-attacks.

Dominating the first half from start to finish, the Steel were unable to capitalize as Charleston were content on sitting back looking to break.

A first half riddled with physical play was topped off by a strike from Charleston’s red hot striker Ataulla Guerra in the 44th minute of the match.

Guerra’s fourth goal in five matches came against the run of play after a handful of errors from the Steel’s back-line and midfield as they tried to clear their lines. Winger Gordon Wild found himself in acres of space on the right and was able to pick out Guerra inside the six yard box.

Once again, a mental lapse from the Steel would ultimately cost them. There were shades of Richmond’s opener from last weekend in that goal.

Second Half

The home fans were treated to a complete role reversal in the second period as the Battery came out of the break firing on all cylinders. After forty-five minutes of pure defending with chances few and far between, Charleston found themselves being afforded loads of time and space with the ball.

Particularly vulnerable was Oliver Mbaizo’s right-hand flank in the opening ten minutes of the half. He and Fabian Herbers, until that point, had done an exceptional job keeping Charleston’s fullbacks from advancing forward with the ball.

Nine minutes in, it appeared that a second goal was looming for Charleston — and indeed it came. Being given the time and space to pick out a cross, veteran defender Neveal Hackshaw found Atlanta United loanee Gordon Wild at the far post who buried a firecracker of a volley, giving Jake McGuire no chance for a save.

The goal was a rude awakening for the Steel in a game they were seemingly controlling. However, they responded well and settled back into the match.

In the 60’ head coach Brendan Burke called upon last week’s Man of the Match Santi Moar off the bench. Moar, who just so happened to graduate from Pfeiffer University earlier today, was an instant spark for the squad. Within five minutes Moar was pressing the opposition’s back-line with his signature speed and technique.

In the 65th minute he worked to earn a corner from which Bethlehem earned a penalty kick. After some sloppy defending, an errant clearance struck the arm of a Battery defender, forcing the referee into a tough decision. Today’s captain Derrick Jones stepped up and coolly slotted the ball home to make the match 2-1.

The Steel continued to gain momentum but couldn’t find the tying goal, as the boys in white fell just short on the road.

Three Points

Lineup: Tonight’s match marked the sixty-sixth consecutive match with a different starting eleven for Brendan Burke’s side. Obviously Burke does not have the luxury of knowing who he’ll have at his disposal and who’ll be playing with the first team on any given match day unlike other USL teams. During his midweek conference call, Burke stated that he would not know his lineup until Thursday or Friday of this week. Undoubtedly a challenge when preparing a squad for a match. There was anticipation that striker Cory Burke would make the trip but ultimately ended up scoring (and getting sent off) in Montréal for the Union this afternoon.

Striker: The Steel could have used the presence of a true number nine like Burke today. Brandon Allen found himself on the bench today in the midst of his goal drought while Aidan Apodaca made his USL debut. Apodaca had himself a quiet night and failed to get anything going up top. The soon-to-be 22 year old may just need to get more playing time under his belt before making any kind of major impact after a solid preseason campaign where he scored three goals. Burke is obviously the greatest talent the Steel have at the striker position. Unfortunately for the Steel, Burke is proving his worth with the first team this year and with the Union’s lackluster goal scoring record, he may be called upon more often.

Inexperience: A blessing and a curse. This season the Steel have found themselves on the front foot of matches week in week out. The Steel are few fortunate bounces away from a winning record this season, but those bounces are the ones that experienced teams seem to find. While blessed with incredible amounts of young, raw talent, Bethlehem has struggled to jump out to the leads that they deserve. Tonight was no exception. We know the talent and the ability is there. Team chemistry is tough to come by with all of the moving parts that come with being an affiliate team in the USL.

Lineups

Bethlehem: Jake McGuire, Prosper Chiluyla, Brandon Aubrey, Matt Mahoney, Oliver Mbaizo, Derrick Jones (C), Drew Skunreich, Fabian Herbers (Tonny Temple 71’), Adam Najem (Chris Nanco 66’), Michee Nagalina (Santi Moar 60’), Aidan Apodaca

Substitutes not used: Tomas Romero, A.J. Paterson, Mike Catalano, Brandon Allen.

Charleston: Joe Kuzminsky, Jay Bolt (Nico Rittmeyer 27’), Taylor Mueller (C), Skylar Thomas, Neveal Hackshaw, Ataulla Guerra (Ian Svantesson 75’), Vincenzo Candela, Tah Brian Anunya, Kontaro Higasti, Gordon Wild, Jarad van Schaik

Substitutes not used: Odisnel Cooper, Victor Mansaray, Patrick Okonkwo, Angelo Kelly-Rosales, Ran Arambula.

Discipline

Bethlehem:     Oliver Mbaizo 9’ Yellow (foul)

Charleston:      Vincenzo Candola 20’ Yellow (foul)

Charleston:      Nico Rittmeyer 31’ Yellow (foul)

Scoring

Charleston:      Ataulla Guerra (Gordon Wild) 44’

Charleston:      Gordon Wild (Neveal Hackshaw) 54’

Bethlehem:     Derrick Jones (PK) 65’

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