The Richmond Kickers are unbeaten no longer.
Mike Azira scored two goals and Dane Kelly, Colin Falvey and Heviel Cordoves also scored to lead the Charleston Battery past the Richmond Kickers, 5-2, Saturday night before a crowd of 3,460 at Blackbaud Stadium.
Charleston, which won for the fourth straight time at home, improved to 11-6-6 (39 points) and moved to within a point of third-place Harrisburg City.
Richmond, 13-1-9 (48 points), came into the game as the only team in the USL Pro division that had not lost in regulation this season. Charleston was looking to avenge its season-opening loss (4-1) to the Kickers.
“It was a great win for us,” Charleston Battery coach Mike Anhaeuser said. “We jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first half, and I thought we were going to cruise to a win. But give Richmond credit, they fought back. I was on pins and needles the whole second half.”
It was a sluggish game as both teams appeared exhausted after playing Friday night — the Battery dropping a 2-1 decision at Wilmington, while Richmond beat Charlotte, 1-0.
“We knew we were going to use our entire lineup this weekend,” Anhaeuser said. “There were some tired legs on both sides. The team that makes the fewest mistakes usually wins a game like this and we didn’t make many mistakes.”
It was the 13th goal for the Battery’s attack in their last three home games.
“That’s what happens when you start playing for one another,” Azira said. “This shows that we are working together. The fans and our supporters have really been behind us lately and they deserve a lot of the credit.”
Charleston grabbed a 1-0 lead on Falvey’s third goal of the season in the 23rd minute. After a corner kick, the ball bounced out to midfielder Bryce Alderson about 25 yards out on the left side of the field. Alderson sent a searching ball into the six-yard box, that Falvey headed it in for the score.
Charleston pushed its advantage to 2-0 on Azira’s fourth goal of the season in the 25th minute. After a brief build-up, Azira stopped just short of the 18-yard box to wait on the rest of the Battery’s attack. The two central Richmond defenders backed off of Azira giving the midfielder enough room to get off a shot. Azira took a step forward and ripped a shot past Dykstra for the score.
Just before the end of halftime, the Kickers cut the gap to 2-1 on Alex Hill’s header in stoppage time.
“That goal really gave them a lot of life going into the second half,” Anhaeuser said.
The Battery answered in the opening minutes of the second half on Kelly’s eighth goal in USL Pro competition. After a foul on Richmond, Charleston midfielder Jose Cuevas sent a bending ball to the near post that Kelly headed past Dykstra for the score.
The Kickers made things interesting when veteran striker Matt Delicate scored in the 72nd minute to cut the gap to 3-2.
“That just shows you the kind of quality that that Richmond has,” said Charleston defender John Wilson. “A lot of teams would probably have given up being down 3-1 on the road, but Richmond’s a good team with a lot of quality players.”
The Battery put the game away in the 84th minute on Azira’s second goal of the night, this one coming off a beautiful through ball from Zach Prince.
Cordoves closed out the game with his sixth goal of the season and his second this weekend in stoppage time.
“Heviel has had a knack all season of finishing off games for us,” Anhaeuser said. “He just seems to find a way to put the ball into the net.”
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