Louisville City returned to its winning ways against the Charleston Battery on Saturday night in front of 7,850 fans. It was a perfect night for a game, and the Royals and the Battery put on a very good show. Charleston came into the game off short rest from a loss on Thursday night to St. Louis, and were looking to make up ground on Louisville City for second place, which comes with home field advantage and a bye in the playoffs. Unfortunately for them, the Battery were sent packing in a 3-1 defeat that probably seals up the spot for City.
James O’Connor sent out his best lineup for this game after experimenting a bit against Tulsa. The game was very much a chess match played between the penalty areas for much of the first half, with neither team getting much in the way of scoring opportunities. Charleston kept Louisville City on the chalk and played very compact defensively, while Louisville City’s back four did well to keep Scotty Goodwin from having to do much in his goal area. Both teams traded spells of possession in a clean half that looked like it would result in clean sheets until Matt Fondy spoiled the party.
In the 45th minute, Scott Goodwin collected an errant through ball from Charleston and got City on the attack quickly on a throw in to the center of the field. Magnus Rasmussen collected the ball just past the center circle, picked up his head and laid the ball into space on his right for Bryan Burke. Burke had time and space over the ball for probably the first time all game, and that’s all he needed to cross in a perfect ball to the near post that Fondy ran onto and headed into the back of the net from the 6 yard box. It was the Royals’ first shot on goal for the entire half, and Matt Fondy’s hair made it count for his 17th goal of the season, and Burke’s 8th assist.
Neither team made any substitutions at half time, and the second half was much more end-to-end than the tactical and careful first. Charleston, chasing a goal, had the better of the ball for the first twenty minutes but couldn’t make anything of it. Both teams began subbing players in at the 70th minute, with the Battery putting more players into their attack. However, it was City again who got on the score sheet in the 74th minute. Aodhan Quinn got a shot on goal from a counter attack from the left which forced Battery keeper Odisnel Cooper to bat the ball away from danger. MAG RAM had other ideas, though, as he volleyed the rebound into an empty net to put City up 2-0.
Desperately needing a result, the Battery started sending most of its team forward to get a goal, which exposed their defense even more. In the 83rd minute, Charleston gave up a free kick between the D and the center circle, and were caught napping on what amounts to a trick play by City. Rasmussen quickly took the free kick toward the top left corner of the box that Matt Fondy rifled home for goal no. 18 to put the good guys up 3-0, sealing the result for City. Charleston would get one back off a poor clearance from Conor Shanosky just a few minutes later that Mikael Chiang bent into Goodwin’s upper 90, ruining his clean sheet, but after that the Royals killed time and the game off for the 3 points.
The win puts Louisville City at 45 points, nine clear of the three-way tie for third between Richmond, New York and Charleston, with a game in hand on all three. City’s next match is a friendly against Orlando City at Slugger Field on Tuesday, and the Royals return to league action on Saturday at home against Pittsburgh.