CHARLESTON, S.C. – Justin Portillo scored the only goal of the game as the Charleston Battery took a 1-0 victory against the Richmond Kickers on Saturday night at MUSC Health Stadium in the 60th meeting between the historic rivals. Both teams had a chance to take the lead early, but the Battery (8-2-3, 27pts) went ahead from the penalty spot when Portillo converted to the right corner after a handball was called in the penalty area. The Kickers (2-7-4, 10pts) almost hit back on the stroke of halftime as Fred Owusu Sekyere’s glancing header went just wide of the right post, and Alex Lee sent a curling effort just wide for the visitors six minutes after the break. The Battery had a big chance to add to their lead when Romario Williams broke in behind the defense, but his pass to Heviel Cordoves wasn’t controlled and the chance went astray. Richmond again went close to an equalizer with 13 minutes to go as Sunny Jane flashed a shot just wide of the left post, and Jane had another chance saved by Odisnel Cooper as he controlled on his chest and hit a turning shot. The Battery held on in stoppage time, though, to secure the victory against their longtime rivals.
26’ – CHS – Justin Portillo (penalty)
Three Things That Matter:
1. The Battery got back on a winning track thanks to Justin Portillo keeping his nerve after being made to retake a penalty kick he had already put away after encroachment on the penalty area. The midfielder, who has been key for the Battery over the past two seasons from set pieces, went back to the same corner of the net, and while Richmond goalkeeper Marcel DeBellis went the right way, Portillo’s finish was good enough to get the Battery the lead it had pushed for early.
2. The Kickers did enough to take something from Saturday night’s game, but once again this season couldn’t get the final bounce to go their way in the attacking third. The Kickers were the dominant team for good portions of the second half, and hit the crossbar as part of a close-range scramble from a corner kick on the left. Sunny Jane had a very positive influence after coming on as a substitute, but it wasn’t quite enough as the last big opportunity flashed in front of three runners in the penalty area, but not close enough to find the net.
3. The Battery will remain on top of the Eastern Conference at the end of this weekend, and have now extended their undefeated streak against arguably their biggest rivals to eight games over the past three seasons. Charleston had to fight hard to earn all three points on Saturday night, though, but after last weekend’s late collapse that cost the side two points against Louisville City FC, securing a win with a strong rearguard action late will be a nice boost for Head Coach Mike Anhaeuser’s squad.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Justin Portillo, Charleston Battery – Portillo scored the only goal of the game, and was influential throughout in midfield as the Battery took victory.
Charleston Battery at FC Cincinnati – June 17, 7 p.m. ET, Nippert Stadium
Richmond Kickers vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies – June 17, 7 p.m. ET, City Stadium