The Charleston Battery fell 2-4 to Sacramento Republic FC on Saturday at Patriots Point. The Black and Yellow got out to an early lead via Enock Kwakwa, but the visitors overwhelmed Charleston with their relentless responses. Augustine Williams would add his 11th goal of the year in front of the packed home crowd on hand for Hometown Heroes Night to close out the July schedule.
The evening started with plenty of intensity, indicating early on the theme of the match, as Sacramento forced a tense situation in front of the Battery goal that ultimately came up empty. Charleston broke open the game in the 4th minute when Enock Kwakwa buried his second goal of the season. The score was a product of strong build-up play from the Battery’s back line that led to Alexander Dexter sending in a cross into the box. His pass deflected off a Sacramento defender and Kwakwa scored off the rebound.
Both sides continued to make advances inside the final third, and Sacramento managed to level the score when Emil Cuello scored off corner kick in the 16th minute. The Battery nearly responded in the 25th minute when Augustine Williams fired in a strike on target that forced goalkeeper Carlos Saldana to make a decisive save. The visitors doubled their lead at the half-hour mark via Luther Archimède.
The Battery leveled the score in the 43rd minute after another fortunate rebound allowed Williams to score. Charlie Asensio initiated the play by finding Geobel Perez at the top of the box, who then had a shot on target get parried away by Saldana. The ball was not cleared and Williams worked the tight angle for his 11th goal of the season. On the opposite end, Zeiko Lewis reclaimed the lead for Sacramento a minute later and the 2-3 scoreline held into the break, despite the Battery holding the lion’s share of possession and chances.
Play resumed with the night’s intensity carrying forward from the first half. Sacramento made the most of their opportunities again and Matt LaGrassa doubled the visitors’ lead in the 48th minute to make the score 2-4. The Battery looked to respond on the other end before the hour-mark with shots from Kwakwa and Dexter but neither could find the target.
Charleston pressed forward to try chipping away at Sacramento’s lead while the visitors seemed to settle in more to the match, content with their two-goal lead. Sacramento were at one point held without a shot for nearly 25 minutes. The Battery nearly found the scoreboard again in the 75th minute after some strong transition play led by DZ Harmon and Romario Piggott. The play was capped by an athletic shot on target by Williams that forced Saldana into a diving save. Goalkeeper Hugo Fauroux worked to preserve the scoreline when he made a strong save against Maalique Foster in the 81st minute. Republic FC were reduced in size on the bench when assistant head coach Danny Dichio was issued a straight red card in the 90th minute.
Despite the up-tempo nature of the night, things settled down in the waning moments on the pitch and Sacramento saw out the 2-4 victory.
Battery Head Coach Conor Casey and defender Charlie Asensio addressed the match following the final whistle, with quotes to follow.
Coach Casey on his assessment of the performance…
I was disappointed with the effort that we came out with, there was not a lot of desire to compete and we were out-competed on our own field. Sacramento didn’t really show anything that we didn’t prepare for, but we were sloppy with the ball and we defended really poorly in transition. It was good to get the goal first, but then we took our foot off the pedal right away. For me, it was a very slow start, regardless of the goal. We’ve been making progress but tonight was poor.
Coach Casey on looking ahead to the August schedule now that’s almost exclusively road matches…
My message to the team is to keep fighting. That’s it, just keep fighting. We have to go out there and we have to fight with everything we got, every game, every night, to be able to get as many points as possible.
Coach Casey on the support displayed at home tonight…
The fans are great and we feel for them, I feel for them, I apologize to them for how things have gone. It hasn’t been good enough for us this year, and I certainly share their frustration. Their support has been amazing and we’re going to continue to work hard and try and give them something to be able to cheer about.
Asensio on the difficulties of the night…
Starting with myself, I think I had some sloppy passes. We weren’t moving the ball fast enough and Sacramento were able to pick us off too easily. Then on the counterattack, they were very effective. So, they caught us in transition quite a bit and they finished their chances, credit to them. For us, tonight was not good enough, especially at home, so we need to clean those things up.
Asensio on positive takeaways to build upon…
We still created chances, we didn’t put all of them away, but we had some crosses that guys got on the end of and some combination play that led to chances in and around the box. So, we just need to keep doing that and doing it more consistently. Then, most importantly, we have to finish those chances off. There were good moments, but there were also a lot of bad moments, and we need to clean those up and put a consistent 90 minutes out there.
Asensio on the home support during the match…
I haven’t been here long, but I can already tell the kind of fanbase we have here, and it’s really special. It’s a great atmosphere here compared to a lot of places that I’ve played, so credit to the fans for coming out. Their support means the world to us, and we’re sad that we didn’t give them the result they wanted, but we’re looking forward to coming back here at the end of August and fixing that.
The Battery will look to move past Saturday’s result and get ready for a spell of road matches before returning to Patriots Point on August 27 to face Detroit City FC.