Louisville City FC is now tied for second in the USL Eastern Conference following a 1-0 win over 10-men Charlotte Independence on Wednesday night.
A second-half goal by Richard Ballard capped off a successful return home after having been on the road for over a month.
“It was beautiful man,” Ballard said. “It felt like everything I’d worked for finally paid off.”
The first chance of the match went to City in the 7th minute. Cameron Lancaster had a straight away shot just outside the box. He curled his effort to the right post but went just wide.
A through ball by Yann Ekra sent David Spies into space chasing the ball in a footrace with Greg Ranjitsingh in the 8th minute. Ranjitsingh dove on top of the ball to shut down Charlotte’s first chance of the game.
City came close to scoring in the 13th minute. A quick one-two between Lancaster and Paolo DelPiccolo put the Englishman at the top of the box with a great opportunity. He fired first time off the exchange but went straight at Charlotte goalkeeper Cody Mizell, who punched the ball over for a corner.
Fresh off conceding four goals to Charleston, City were still leaky at the back giving Charlotte great looks on goal, but Oscar Jimenez and Tarek Morad made goal-saving clearances inside the first 30 minutes to keep the score at 0-0.
DelPiccolo almost opened the scoring in the 39th minute. As the ball was rolling around in the box in between legs, it went straight to DelPiccolo, who shot low to avoid deflection, but Mizell stretched and made a huge save conceding a corner.
The boys in purple had the advantage and looked the more dominant team. They enjoyed possession 60-40% and had the shots advantage 9-3. However, the score at the break was 0-0. Charlotte came into the game allowing a league-worst 1.63 goals-per-game and was giving City an abundance of chances to score; City just failed to convert.
The second half started just as action-packed as the first. Momentum shifted heavily in LCFC’s favor in the 48th minute when Charlotte was reduced to 10 men for a collision involving Brian Ownby. Ownby collected the ball on the left flank and ran at multiple Charlotte defenders. He cut inside but bumped knees with Ashani Fairclough. The referee wasted no time to issue Fairclough his second yellow card after he was booked in the 20th minute.
Two missed chances by Niall McCabe and Ownby led to groans heard around the stadium. Charlotte was giving up the chances, but again City squandered each opportunity.
The Supporters’ Section went into a frenzy and filled the sky with purple and yellow smoke as Ballard gave City the lead in the 60th minute. A diagonal cross found Lancaster streaking into the box. He passed to McCabe, who then laid it off to the trailing Ballard, who fired left post past Mizell for his first league goal as an LCFC player.
“I’m delighted for Richard,” Louisville City coach James O’Connor said. “He’s someone we’ve got great belief in. I’m really pleased with him because he’s worked really hard and he’s a great kid.”
Instead of searching for a second goal, City was content in defending the lead to close out the game. Charlotte had two chances to equalize via free kicks, but Ranjitsingh came up big to deny the comeback attempt.
Louisville City is back in action on the road in a rare Sunday match in an Eastern Conference Final rematch with New York Red Bulls II. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m.