Battery 2, Kickers 1
The Charleston Battery breathed a collective sigh of relief that could be heard all across Daniel Island.
Charleston rookie striker Dane Kelly scored in the opening half and Jon Gruenewald got the game-winner in the 86th minute to lead Charleston past Richmond, 2-1, Tuesday night before a crowd of 2,461 at Blackbaud Stadium.
It was the first win and the first goal for the Battery since a 2-1 victory over Charlotte on April 29. The Battery improved to 4-4-2 (14 points) and moved into fourth place in the USL Pro American Division after snapping the five-game winless streak.
Richmond lost its first game of the season and fell to 6-1-1 (19 points).
It wasn't always the most beautiful exhibition of soccer, but it got the job done, and that's all that anyone in a yellow-and-black jersey cared about afterward.
"This really wasn't one of our better performances," said Gruenewald, who scored for the first time this season. "But we really needed a win. ... We were just determined to get a win tonight. We talked before the game about ending one streak and starting another."
After giving up an early goal, the Battery settled into a tight defensive effort.
"I thought overall we did a good job defensively," said Charleston Battery coach Mike Anhaeuser. "They didn't get a lot of scoring chances, and the ones they got were from distance."
The Battery got off to a brutal start, giving up a goal in the first 30 seconds of the match. Rookie defender Sean Flatley, who was making his first professional start, made a back pass that was intended for keeper Keith Wiggans on the opening kickoff.
The ball, however, found the feet of Richmond striker Matt Delicate just outside the 18-yard box. Delicate took the shot that Wiggans bodied high into the air. Delicate stayed with the ball and headed in the rebound for the score.
"It was a touch of nerves from Sean in his first start," said Charleston defender Colin Falvey. "We talked all week about getting the ball back to Keith and keeping the game simple. To his credit, I thought Sean recovered well and was probably our best player for the rest of the game."
Despite their skid, the Battery didn't panic.
"If you're going to give up a goal, best to do it in the first minute," Falvey joked. "That way you've got 89 minutes to get the equalizer."
The Battery answered in the 26th minute, finally ending a franchise-record scoring drought of 525 minutes when Falvey slotted a ball to Kelly. Kelly stepped past the first Richmond defender and raced past central defender Henry Yomey for a breakaway. Kelly's initial shot was blocked by Richmond keeper Ronnie Pascale. But like Delicate earlier, Kelly stayed with the play, scooped up the rebound and shot the ball into the empty net.
The Battery took the lead in the 86th minute when Nicki Paterson's no-look pass found the feet of Gruenewald on the left flank behind the Kickers defenders. Gruenewald took a dribble and then blasted the ball past Pascale for the score. For good measure, Gruenewald did a back-flip to celebrate.
"Just a gift from Nicki," Gruenewald said. "I saw (Pascale) come off his line and I was fortunate to get the ball past him. I know it was a huge relief for everyone. Not only to score, but to beat one of the best teams in the league."
--Charleston defender John Wilson was suspended against Richmond after receiving a red card in the Battery's last game against Wilmington.
--Keeper Andrew Dykstra (leg), striker Levi Coleman (knee), midfielder Cole Peverley (leg) and defender Graham Dugoni (ankle) were out of the lineup with injuries.