Charleston blanks rival Richmond Kickers, 2-0

Rickey Garbanzo takes on Lucas Paulini 15 as the Charleston Battery takes on the Richmond Kickers at MUSC Health Stadium on July 2, 2016. Michael Wiser/Staff

Heviel Cordoves has been in-and out-of the Charleston Battery lineup the last couple of months with a head injury.

It hasn’t been until the last couple of weeks that Cordoves has felt his old self again.

Cordoves and Taylor Mueller each scored in the first half and keeper Alex Tambakis made four saves to record his third straight shutout to lead the Charleston Battery past the Richmond Kickers, 2-0, Saturday at MUSC Stadium.

The Battery, who are 4-0-1 in their last five league matches, improved to 9-4-3 (30 points) overall and moved into fourth place in the USL’s Eastern Conference. The Kickers fell to 5-6-5 (20 points).

Cordoves was limited to just eight appearances in the Battery’s first 15 matches due to a neck injury that kept him out of the lineup.

When Charleston striker Romario Williams dropped to the field in the 27th minute, Cordoves came off the bench and 10 minutes later gave the Battery a 2-0 lead off a beautiful pass from defender O’Brian Woodbine in the 36th minute.

“Heviel did a fantastic job for us coming in off the bench and getting that goal,” said Charleston Battery head coach Mike Anhaeuser. “He played last week against Toronto and we wanted to bring him along slowly after his injury. You have to be very cautious with the kind of injury he had, but he’s progressed very nicely. He’s got his fitness back and he’s ready to go and we’re going to need him down the stretch.”

Woodbine came down the left flank and served a ball into the 18-yard box. The Cuban striker flicked the ball past Richmond keeper Charlie Horton for his first goal of the season.

“A great pass from O’Brian and I was able to get on the end of it,” Cordoves said. “It was good to come in and get a goal.”

Cordoves said he finally feels like he’s totally healthy.

“I’m 100 percent, it took a while, but I’m match fit now,” Cordoves said.

Williams, who leads the Battery with seven goals this season, left the game with a leg injury.

“We don’t think it’s too serious,” Anheauser said. “It looks like a calf strain and he could be out about a week.”

That will mean that Williams will most likely miss Wednesday exhibition match against Rangers FC.

Charleston grabbed a 1-0 lead on Mueller’s header off a corner kick in the 29th minute. Justin Portillo lofted the ball into the six-yard box and Mueller finished it for his third goal of the season.

“Justin has been so good for us on our set pieces all season,” Anhaeuser said. “He played in a perfect ball and Taylor is very good in the air and was able to get on the other end of that. Getting that first goal against Richmond is so important for us. We’ve had so many 1-0 games against them over the years.”

The Battery were forced to play a man down for the final 15 minute of the match after midfielder Dante Marini was issued a red card on a hard challenge at the 75 minute mark.

Charleston has not given up a goal in more than three matches and kept that streak alive despite giving up 14 shots to the Kickers.

“We defended very well tonight,” Anhaeuser said. “They came at us pretty hard in the second half, they hit a post early in the second half, but we held tight and played well the rest of the game. If they score that goal, that might have changed the game.”