Late rally falls flat as home side plays fourth game in seven days
By Bruce Constantineau
August 15 vs. Carolina Railhawks
7 p.m. at Swangard Stadium
- - -
Charleston Battery jumped all over a tired Vancouver Whitecaps squad in the first half Friday and then held on for a 2-1 win over the Caps in USL-1 play at Swangard Stadium.
The league-leading Battery took advantage of a Caps team playing its fourth match in seven days and second in just 24 hours, following a 1-0 loss Thursday in Portland.
Charleston got the game's first goal in the 24th minute when Battery striker Darren Spicer scored off a rebound that came after Caps keeper Jay Nolly stopped a low shot from Charleston forward Randi Patterson.
Patterson scored 11 minutes later after Charleston midfielder Scott Buete pressured the Vancouver defence, forcing a mistake and sending Patterson in clear on Nolly.
The Whitecaps appeared listless throughout most of the first half after arriving in Vancouver from Portland at about 4 a.m. Friday morning.
But a flurry of activity midway through the second half saw two great Caps scoring chances, including a near-miss on a Charles Gbeke header off a precision cross from veteran midfielder Martin Nash.
Nash broke through for the Whitecaps in the 80th minute when he fired a 25-yard strike home after taking a pass from forward Marcus Haber, who came into the game in the second half.
Battery keeper Dusty Hudock preserved the win with a great leg save off a close-in shot from Whitecaps defender Takashi Hirano in extra time.
Nash said it was tough playing back-to-back games just a week apart, after the team also played on consecutive days last week.
"It's tough to get your body going but the fans helped us get up for the game," he said. "A couple of sloppy mistakes cost us two goals in the first half. Other than that, I thought we were the better team on the night."
Nash feels the team is playing well but not getting the results it needs.
"If we were playing badly, me might be panicking but that's not the case," he said. "We just have to get a few things right. It has been a tough year - giving away goals and points all year. It's something we just haven't done in the past."
Whitecaps head coach Teitur Thordarson felt the team played well in the second half by maintaining possession and avoiding the long-ball play that dominated much of the first half.
"We've had two very tough games and come out with nothing but we are still playing quite well and that's encouraging," he said.
The defending USL-1 champion Caps (7W-9L-4D) were trying to claw back to the .500 mark after a three-game road trip that saw them win in Rochester, draw in Cleveland and lose in Portland on Thursday.
It was the second meeting of the season between Vancouver and Charleston, with the two sides playing to a goalless draw in the season opener at Swangard on April 11. They meet for the third and final time this regular season in Charleston on Aug. 20.
Vancouver remains tied with Miami for sixth place in the USL-1 division, with both clubs clinging to the last two playoff spots, just two points ahead of eighth-place Montreal Impact.
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service