On April 12th, 1861, Confederate cannons surrounding Charleston harbor began a 34-hour barrage of Union troops who had sought refuge in Fort Sumter, then believed to be one of the strongest fortresses of the world. Ten days and 156 years later, the Charleston Battery only needed 90 minutes to claim another win on the waterfront, this time in a building Rowdies coach Stuart Campbell believed had become a fortress for his own men.
Playing their third match in 8 days, Campbell rotated his lineup, handing newcomers Alex Morrell and Kyle Porter their first starts, and Darwin Jones his second consecutive nod. The wingers looked to make an impact on the game in it’s early stages as Jones’s dipping shot forced a save by Battery keeper Odisnel Cooper in the 7th minute, while the Lakeland native Morrell saw his effort saved in the 16th.
The new boys weren’t the only ones making noise, as the center back tandem of Damion Lowe and Neill Collins both tried to find the opening goal, with Lowe taking a shot in the 4th and Collins having a header saved in the 8th.
When Georgi Hristov juggled the ball with his back to the goal before rattling the crossbar in the 19th, it seemed like a matter of time before the Rowdies would finally grab the lead and 15 minutes later, Joe Cole tallied his second goal of the season.
Four minutes later, Battery striker Romario Williams picked up a yellow card and the 5,016 in attendance on a warm night at Al Lang Stadium felt like this could turn into another romp at home – unfortunately for the home crowd, nobody told the Battery players that nugget of information, and Forrest Lasso was credited with the equalizer in the 40th minute, despite it looking like he didn’t touch Justin Portillo‘s free kick. Less than a minute into first half stoppage time, Maikel Chang blasted a shot from outside the right side of the box into the bottom left corner and the Rowdies went into halftime down 2-1.
Charleston started the second half strong, but Matt Pickens saved Williams’ 52nd-minute shot. Seeking a spark, Campbell went to his bench and brought on Leo Fernandes for Morrell in the 56th. Ten minutes later, Campbell opted for offense as Deshorn Brown replaced Porter. Jones would then drop back as needed from his midfield position as defensive cover as the Rowdies pushed for the go-ahead goal. Brown and Cole had shots saved in the 76th and 77th minutes before an injured Cole came off in the 81st minute for Martin Paterson.
A Charleston throw-in, deep in the Rowdies end, resulted in a flurry of activity in Pickens’ box. Portillo received the ball from Chang, passed it back, and Chang sent it into the box to Tah Anunga, who sent it to Lasso. Lasso took a shot that Pickens punched away, with the ball landing at Luke Boden‘s feet. The left back’s clearance attempt trickled toward a charging Anunga, who scored the decisive goal in the 89th minute.
Jones tried one more time with another long-range shot like his first, but Cooper saved it and the Rowdies fell at home for the first time this season.
Following their defeat at Fort Sumter, the Union had just over 3 months to regroup before facing the Confederates again in the First Battle of Bull Run, outside the town of Manassas, Virginia. The Rowdies have one week to get back on track before hosting the Kickers, from Richmond…Virginia.
IMAGE, PATRICK PATTERSON/UNUSED SUBSTITUTES