CHARLESTON, SC – The Richmond Kickers (6-1-1, 19 points) suffered their first loss of the season at the hands of the Charleston Battery (4-4-2, 14 points) on a steamy Tuesday night at Blackbaud Stadium. Gifted a goal by the Battery defense in a record-setting 30 seconds into the match, Kickers forward Matthew Delicâte gave the visitors an early lead. Charleston forward Dane Kelly brought the scoreline level before the break with midfielder Jon Gruenewald stealing the three points with a last-gasp tally. The Kickers carry on to Orlando to take on the American Division leaders Orlando City at the Citrus Bowl. The match will be broadcast on USLLive.com at 7:30 p.m.
Entering the match just six minutes earlier, Gruenewald snapped the Battery’s five-game scoreless streak with the game-winning effort in the 86th minute. Played deep onto the left side of the penalty area, he took one touch into the box and lofted the ball into the far corner to reclaim fourth place in the American Division standings.
Richmond conceded their early advantage after Delicâte notched his sixth goal of the season inside the first minute of play. Charleston defender Sean Flatley miss-hit a back pass to his goalkeeper, Keith Wiggans, allowing an onrushing Delicâte to intercept the loose ball inside the box. Wiggans stopped his first attempt, but his follow-up header found the empty net as the league’s leading scorer capitalized on the defensive breakdown to surprise the home side with a 1-0 lead immediately after kickoff.
It was a new game in the 26th minute when Kelly eluded Kickers defenders and escaped on a breakaway 30 yards out. The Charleston forward drove a low ball on target from the top of the box but Kickers goalkeeper Ronnie Pascale, made a diving save to stifle the attack. Not to be denied a second time, Kelly collected the rebound and slotted the ball through to the open net to bring the match level.
A change in momentum ensued as Charleston continued to press and nearly took the lead before the break. Nicki Paterson picked out Stephen Armstrong at the edge of the box but the well-positioned midfielder’s full volley glanced just wide of the near post.
The Kickers best chance of the second half occurred in the 75th minute when second half substitute Shaka Bangura scrambled his way through the defense inside the box. He laid the ball off to midfielder David Bulow at the top of the 18, but his curling ball sailed over the crossbar.
Richmond’s toughest road trip of the season continues tomorrow night as the Kickers travel south to take on Orlando City at 7:30 p.m. They return to City Stadium this Saturday, May 28 to host FC New York and the MARTIN’S Kick Out Hunger Food Drive at 7:00 p.m. Fans who donate non-perishable food items to benefit the Central Virginia Food Bank will receive a coupon for $5.00 regularly priced admission at the gate. Visit RichmondKickers.com for more information.