Reading United coach Brendan Burke doesn’t hate Charleston Battery forward Nicki Paterson. There’s certainly a strong dislike for the Scottish striker, but not hatred.
It’s not difficult to blame Burke for any hard feelings he might have toward Paterson. For the third time in the last four years, Paterson has recorded the game-winning goal that knocked Reading United out of the U.S. Open Cup.
Paterson and Dane Kelly scored in the final 21 minutes as the Charleston Battery rallied to beat Reading United, 2-1, in the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday night before a crowd of about 1,000 at Blackbaud Stadium.
With the victory, the Battery will take on Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup next Tuesday night at Blackbaud Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
All three of Paterson’s game-winning goals against Reading have come on free kicks. Playing for Harrisburg City in 2009, Paterson converted a free kick from about 20 yards out late in the second half to bounce Reading from the tournament. He repeated the feat the following season for Real Maryland.
This time, Paterson whipped in a wicked bending free kick in from 30 yards out that completely baffled Reading goalie Martin Emmanuel in the 69th minute.
“I’m not a big fan of Nicki Paterson,” Burke said. “If I never see him again, it’ll be too soon.”
Paterson, a sheepish grin on his face following the game, could sympathize with Burke’s animosity.
“I don’t think we’ll be exchanging Christmas cards any time soon,” Paterson said. “You do it once and it’s no big deal, but three times, and I’m sure it gets old. I haven’t had much luck on free kicks all season. I’ve been putting them on frame, but I haven’t had one to go in, so it was great to finally get one when we really needed it.”
For 65 minutes, Reading, an amateur team made up of college players from Reading, Pa., gave Charleston all they could handle, matching the Battery scoring chance for scoring chance. Reading was determined to play the long ball all night, hoping to catch Charleston back four distracted. Finally in the 64th minute, Reading broke a scoreless tie when defender Ibikunle Olutolani headed in a corner kick to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
“We knew this game wasn’t going to be easy,” said Charleston captain Colin Falvey. “We knew a couple of their players. They are good college players. We knew they were going to be direct and they wouldn’t be intimidated by us. Everyone wanted to talk about the Red Bulls, but I knew we’d have our hands full.”
It didn’t take long for the Battery to answer. Dane Kelly got a nice ball from midfielder Navion Boyd, took two hard dribbles, and blasted a shot past Emmanuel from about 25 yards out for the tying goal in the 69th minute.
“I hadn’t been playing well,” Kelly said. “I knew I needed to step up and make something happen.”
Nine minutes later, Patterson got the ball in the middle of the field and was just about the step past Reading’s Matt Baker when the middle defender grabbed him from behind setting up the game-winning free kick.
It was a sluggish performance from the Battery for most of the night, but Falvey didn’t care. This is a tournament and results are the only thing that matter.
“Last weekend we played some of the best soccer we’ve played all season against Rochester and lost 1-0,” Falvey said. “This week, we played well in spots, but it wasn’t our best soccer. Who cares? We won and now we’ve got the Red Bulls.”
Battery to face Nottingham Forest
The Charleston Battery will host two-time European Champions Nottingham Forest in an international exhibition match at Blackbaud Stadium on July 28.
This is the third consecutive year the Battery has brought an English team to the Lowcountry for a summer game. In 2010, the Battery hosted the Bolton Wanderers, losing the game, 2-0. A year ago, the Battery played Portsmouth FC to a scoreless tie.
Nottingham Forest plays in the Football League Championship. The Championship League is a division below the English Premier League, which is widely considered the top professional soccer league in the world.
Nottingham Forest is managed by Steve Cotterill, who was the manager for Portsmouth FC last year. Cotterill took over at Nottingham Forest last October.
“Everybody at Nottingham Forest are really looking forward to the game in Charleston,” Cotterill said. “The reception received last year was second to none. We made a lot of friends and I am really looking forward to reuniting with them again this year.”
Nottingham Forest is one of the most historic clubs in English soccer. Forest, as they are usually called, are one of just two English clubs to have won back-to-back European Cups (now known as the Champions League), having won in 1979 and 1980 under legendary manager Brian Clough. “We’re really excited about having Nottingham come to Charleston,” said Battery coach Mike Anhaeuser. “They’ve got a very long and storied tradition in English soccer and have a very large following. These kinds of friendly matches are great for our players and our fans.”