Charleston Battery beats Antigua Barracudas 3-0
Just seconds after Charleston forward Dane Kelly was punched by Antigua midfielder Lawson Robinson, Battery team captain Colin Falvey stepped up to the young striker, put his arm around the Jamaican native and gave him a bit of Irish advice.
“If you want to punish them, stick the ball in the net,” Falvey said.
Kelly took the advice to heart.
Nicki Patterson scored two goals and Kelly added another to lead Charleston past Antigua, 3-0, in a chippy and physical game before a crowd of 3,444 at Blackbaud Stadium.
The Battery, winners of four of their last five league matches, improved to 8-3-0 (24 points) and took sole possession of second in the USL Pro Division.
A nasty game from the opening kickoff, turned ugly in the 20th minute when Robinson made a hard challenge on Kelly about 35 yards from the Barracuda’s net. As Kelly got to his feet, he slapped a prone Robinson across the top of his head.
Instead of giving Kelly a red card, which he probably deserved, referee Patrick Baker issued the young striker a yellow card. Robinson outraged at the caution, leaped to his feet and then sucker-punched Kelly. Several players from the Antigua bench came onto the field as both teams began to push and shove near midfield.
Baker immediately ejected Robinson from the game and the Barracuda played the rest of the match a man down.
“I’ve been there before. I’ve wanted to punch a guy and it’s tough not to,” Falvey said. “He’s a young lad, I just went up to him and said, ‘you want to punish them, stick the ball in the net’. Don’t throw a punch, do it with your foot instead.’”
Paterson, who scored on a set piece in the 33rd minute and again on a penalty kick in the second half, said it was difficult to keep his composure. A few years ago, he’s not sure he would have been able to keep his cool and not get into an altercation.
“Your first thought is that you want stick up for your teammate,” Paterson said. “Then you just want to get even. I’m an emotional guy and it took all of my self control not to go after (Robinson). “That’s the way they like to play, so it was important for us not to retaliate.”
Just before halftime, with the Battery leading 1-0, Kelly got a measure of revenge. Kelly picked up a loose ball just outside the 18-yard box, stepped past an Antigua defender and easily slid the ball past Barracuda keeper Keita DeCastro for the goal and a 2-0 advantage.
Kelly ran past the Barracuda (2-7-0, 6 points) bench, dropped to his knees and bowed.
For the most part, the Battery players avoided the physical play, giving the Barracuda a wide berth and walking away from confrontations.
It was hard to believe that a half dozen of these same Barracuda players had lost less than a week ago, 3-1, to the U.S. National team during a World Cup qualifying match in Tampa.
“There was a lot of stuff that people didn’t see,” Falvey said. “They were trying to get into our heads, but we knew they’d try that coming into the game. We watched them on film. They’re very physical. They throw their bodies around. We knew we had to be disciplined.”
Paterson’s two goals gives him a USL Pro Division leading nine on the season. The opening goal, a bending free kick from 25 yards out was a highlight reel goal.
“Nicki has that kind of quality,” said Charleston Battery coach Mike Anhaeuser. “Twenty-five yards in, he’s going to be our guy to take those kicks. He’s scored on that same shot a couple of times already this season. He totally fooled their keeper on the penalty kick.”
The Battery, who has outscored the Barracuda’s 7-0 in two games at Blackbaud Stadium this season. Charleston travels to Antigua for back-to-back games beginning June 29.
“I might wear shin pads on both sides of my legs,” Paterson said with a chuckle. “Maybe I’ll ask the (South Carolina) Stingrays for some hockey pads as well.”