The Charleston Battery survived a scare from PDL club Reading United AC and scored twice in the final 21 minutes to post a 2-1 win in the Second Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday night at Blackbaud Stadium. The Battery, one of just two non-MLS clubs to reach the Open Cup final since 1996, will host the New York Red Bulls in the Third Round next Tuesday.
Reading United acquitted itself well after a shaky first 20 minutes, and the amateur club made up mostly of rising college seniors took the lead in the 64th minute. Substitute Steve Neumann, a rising junior from Georgetown, whipped in a corner kick from the left, floating the ball over Charleston goalkeeper Brock Duckworth, starting in place of cup-tied Andrew Dykstra. Wake Forest defender Tolani Ibikunle arrived at the back post to head Neumann’s cross into the net and give Reading dreams of a spot in the third round.
At that point, Charleston had gone more than 40 minutes without a shot, but the Battery responded quickly by forcing Reading goalkeeper Emmanuel Martin to make his first save of the night from a soft Ryan Richter header. The Battery kept up the pressure and tied the game in the 69th minute, as substitute winger Navion Boyd fed fellow Jamaican Dane Kelly at the top of the penalty area, and Kelly turned to rifle a left-footed shot that skipped into the lower left corner.
Midfielder Nicki Paterson, a starter in all six of Charleston’s league games and one of the Battery’s leading scorers, had come on as a substitute just before Kelly’s goal, and he made the difference 10 minutes later. The gap between the clubs was illustrated perfectly, as Reading fired a free kick straight into the wall at one end of the field, only to see Paterson draw a free kick at the other end of the field. From just shy of 30 yards away, Paterson curled a right-footed shot over the wall and into the top left corner, finally giving Charleston the lead in the 79th minute.
From there, Reading threw numbers forward and Charleston repeatedly failed to extend its lead despite several great chances, notably Paterson’s lobbed try at an open net from 40 yards away after Martin had charged out to deny a Kelly breakaway chance. Reading got several late chances of its own from set pieces, but Duckworth punched away a Neumann corner in the 90th minute, and United’s attempt to play a short corner four minutes into stoppage time were broken up by the Battery.
Just two weeks into its season and having already produced the first Open Cup win in club history, Reading United can be proud of its brief tournament run, but the experienced Battery will now get the chance to continue their storied Open Cup history when they host New York next week.
Reading United vs. Charleston Battery
May 22, 2012 — Blackbaud Stadium, Charleston, SC
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup – Round 2
RDU – Tolani Ibikunle 1 (Steve Neumann 1) 64
CHR – Dane Kelly 1 (Navion Boyd 1) 69
CHR – Nicki Paterson 1 (unassisted) 79
Reading United — Emmanuel Martin, Matthew Baker, Tolani Ibikunle, Ged Quinn (Leonardo Fernandes 85), Greg Cochrane, Stephen Okai, Jacob Barron (Steve Neumann 56), Paul Wyatt (Deshorn Brown 69), Sean Peckham, Pedro Ribeiro, Ryan Finley.
Substitutes Not Used: unavailable.
Charleston Battery — Brock Duckworth, Taylor Mueller, Cody Ellison, Colin Falvey, Sean Flatley, Charlie Romero (Navion Boyd 63), Mike Azira, Jose Cuevas, Zach Prince (Nicki Paterson 68), Ryan Richter, Dane Kelly (Sallieu Bundu 92+).
Substitutes Not Used: unavailable.
CHR — Taylor Mueller (caution; Reckless Foul) 35
RDU — Stephen Okai (caution; Reckless Tackle) 58
CHR — Mike Azira (caution; Reckless Tackle) 62
Referee: Scott Arthur Banning
Referee’s Assistants: Melanie Johnson; Howard Ash
4th official: unavailable
Weather: Rainy-and-74 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial