CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Dane Kelly scored a pair of goals as the Charlotte Independence pulled away from the Charleston Battery in the second half for a 5-1 win that secured the Independence’s place in the 2021 USL Championship Playoffs and eliminated the Battery from contention at American Legion Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.
The Independence looked to take control of the game early and broke through in the 12th minute as Sylvain Marveaux opened the scoring. The French attacking midfielder controlled a pass from the left by Jake Areman under pressure at the top of the penalty area, but then picked out a superb finish to the top-right corner of the net for his sixth goal of the season.
The hosts went close to adding to their lead seven minutes later when Irvin Parra played a pass across the top of the penalty area from the left to Enzo Martinez, whose first-time shot to the right corner was well saved by Battery goalkeeper Paul Lewis. A few minutes later another chance arrived as Parra flicked on a near-post corner from the right by Areman but Brandt Bronico was unable to put his sliding effort at the back post on target, but in the 24th minute a mishandled free kick by Lewis as Parra pressured fell to Kelly, who headed home into an open net for the Independence’s second goal of the night.
The Battery didn’t threaten much in the opening half-hour, and had an appeal for a penalty kick turned down after Charlotte’s Kevin Riascos made a fine tackled to deny a shooting chance for Nicque Daly in the 36th minute. Charleston grabbed a lifeline in first-half stoppage time, though, as a free kick delivered into the penalty area by Zeiko Lewis was first headed on by Leland Archer, then into the six-yard area by Claudio Repetto before Romario Piggott applied the finishing touch from close range.
Charlotte got the chance to restore its two-goal advantage on the hour-mark, however, as Areman was brought down in the left side of the penalty area for the hosts. Martinez stepped up to the spot and shot low to the left corner as Lewis went the opposite way. The Independence then put the game away with 10 minutes to go as Kelly moved within one of reaching 100 regular season goals as he was brought down by Lewis for the second penalty of the night for the hosts. The Jamaican stepped up and sent his shot low to the left corner for No. 99 of his career and the doorstep of history.
The Independence wrapped up the win – and the Southern Derby Cup – with a minute to go as a cross by Brandt Bronico deflected off a defender trying to clear at the top of the six-yard area and came to Gabriel Obertan, who fired low into the left side of the net for the fifth, closing out the Battery’s season while moving another step closer to a second-place finish in the Atlantic Division.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Dane Kelly, Charleston Battery – Kelly notched a pair of goals against his former club to move to 99 in the regular season for his career in the Championship as he finished with five shots overall and completed 16 of 20 passes.
CLT – Sylvain Marveaux (Jake Areman) 12’
CLT – Dane Kelly 24’
CHS – Romario Piggott (Claudio Repetto) 45+2’
CLT – Enzo Martinez (Penalty Kick) 61’
CLT – Dane Kelly (Penalty Kick) 80’
CLT – Gabriel Obertan 89’