Blackbaud Stadium has been anything but a home field advantage for the Charleston Battery this season.
Charleston midfielder Amadou Sanyang scored the game's only goal and keeper Odisnel Cooper collected three saves to record his fourth shutout of the season as the Battery defeated the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, 1-0, Saturday night before a crowd 5,415 at Blackbaud Stadium.
The Battery was just one of four teams in the USL Pro Division that had not won a home game heading into Saturday's match against the Riverhounds. Charleston was 0-1-3 at Blackbaud Stadium, a venue where it has traditionally been a dominant team in league play and had scored just four times in front of the home fans.
Despite playing well enough to get a couple of more victories, the frustration of not winning at home and collecting three points in the standings was beginning to take its toll on the Battery's coaching staff and players.
When the final whistle blew, Charleston head coach Mike Anhaeuser was visibly relieved to get the season's first victory in front of a large home crowd.
"To be honest, I think we've played well enough to get a few more results," Anhaeuser said. "It's not like we've played that badly at home, we've just been a bit unlucky with some of our finishes. We've had a couple of matches that we had the lead and then had the other team score late on us. This is a big win for us and hopefully it's the start of something."
The task was made that much more difficult when Charleston striker Dane Kelly was issued his second yellow card and ejected from the game in the 51st minute. The Battery was forced to play a man down for the final 40 minutes of the match.
"I thought we played an unbelievable defensive game," Anheauser said. "I think they only got one or two chances to score. I actually think we played better when we got a man down. We still were able to attack them."
The Battery got the game's only goal just before halftime when midfielder Andre Lewis crossed the ball into the box. Striker Haviel Cordoves headed the ball over to Sanyang, who easily knocked the ball into the open goal for score.
"Great play from Amadou to get himself into the box and into scoring position," Anhaeuser said. "We probably should have scored two or three more goals. We're creating chances, we've just got to finish them."
The game ended prematurely in stoppage time when referee Patrick O'Brien blew the final whistle about two minutes early. Pittsburgh interim coach Nikola Katic stormed onto the field to confront O'Brien. After a heated exchange, O'Brien ruled that there was still time remaining on the clock. After clearing the field of several hundred fans, the game resumed. Pittsburgh never threatened in the additional two minutes.
"I've never seen that before," Anhaeuser said. "To be honest, it was probably the right call. I think he blew the whistle a little early. I know I would have been very upset had the situation been reversed."