The Charleston Battery were defeated 2-0 against Hartford Athletic on Tuesday as they closed out their 2021 away schedule in Connecticut. It was a rainy and windy affair at Dillon Stadium and was level through much of the first half until Hartford took a 1-0 lead via Walmer Martinez in the 40th minute. The Battery fought to equalize but the Athletic found a second goal to put the game away. Battery goalkeeper Paul Lewis tallied a career-high four saves during the match.
The weather made its presence felt from the very start as both sides used the early minutes to adjust to the rainy conditions. Charleston had the first opportunity in the 7th minute following a cross from Logan Gdula that found Joel Bunting after a few ricochets. Bunting’s attempt for goal, on a tight angle, was too tall for the crossbar. The Battery applied the initial pressure through the first 15 minutes of play via DZ Harmon and Stavros Zarokostas, although the Hartford defense stood up to the task. Jarad van Schaik took a free kick from a dangerous spot outside the box in the 23rd minute that went to Patrick Hogan, with Hartford’s defense denying again.
Hartford began finding momentum midway through the half as the rain became priced into their efforts, with Conor McGlynn taking a shot from outside the box that was blocked in the 26th minute. The Athletic broke through in the 40th minute on a second effort shot to go up 1-0. Goalkeeper Paul Lewis made an impressive diving save to initially deny Danny Barrera, but Walmer Martinez was the quickest man to the ball off the deflection and sent it to the back of the net. The Battery won a pair of free kicks in the waning minutes of the half, however Hartford’s 1-0 advantage held to the break.
The rain lessened as second-half play resumed and the Battery were eager to level the scoreline. Angelo Kelly worked the ball towards the edge of the box in the 49th minute that was ultimately blocked. Lewis showed more comfort between the sticks as the match progressed, making a pair of saves in the 58th minute to stop Martinez and Derek Dodson from adding to Hartford’s lead. The Athletic continued to press for additional shots, but Lewis and the back line made chances difficult forcing Hartford’s shots wide of the net. The Battery looked to counter, but were unable to test goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell.
The hosts doubled their lead in the 70th minute when Martinez caught Lewis off his line. Lewis got a hand on the ball and gave a good effort to make the save, but the shot managed to find the top left corner. Hartford thought they scored a third goal minutes later when Arthur Rogers found the back of the net, however the offside flag was raised. Trying to get momentum back on the Battery’s side, Zarokostas countered with a shot on target in the 77th minute from outside the box that went right to Cladwell. Both sides began forcing the opposing keepers into saves as the game moved into the latter stages. Charleston looked to press on for a goal with their substitutions leading the way, however they were unable to convert before the final whistle as Hartford secured the three points.
Battery Head Coach Michael Anhaeuser gave his verdict on the night.
“It was a tough one because I thought we played really well in the first half, the guys came out and we defended, we moved, we pressured them,” said Anhaeuser. “We picked the ball up in some good spots, but [Hartford] got the one-time and they crossed it, the ball hit the bar, it bounces back out and they score.”
Although the rain and wind were present throughout the match, Anhaeuser commended his players for handling the conditions well.
“The wind was really an issue tonight, but I don’t think it affected the guys, they handled it well, wet turf and all,” said Anhaeuser.
Midfielder Angelo Kelly credited the squad’s high press in giving Hartford issues early on but recognized the counter from the Athletic helped give the hosts the edge.
“Playing up high and making it an open game, I think we were very successful at that, keeping numbers high and opening up the game,” said Kelly. “The bad thing was when we started sitting back, we let [Hartford] build up, get more confident, get more touches, and I think that's what hurt us a lot.”
The team will look to rebound from the result in the final match of their season, back home this weekend.
“The way we move past this result is to put our heads down and just get back to work when we return home,” said Kelly. “It’s the last game for the fans and they deserve a good performance from us, it’d be a nice way to show fan appreciation during the night and end the season on a positive note.”
The Battery return home for the season finale on Saturday, October 30, when they host The Miami FC for Hispanic Heritage Night at Patriots Point. Tickets are still available for Saturday’s finale via SeatGeek, the Battery’s exclusive digital ticketing provider.