HARTFORD, Conn. – The Charlotte Independence rallied from a halftime deficit to take a 2-1 victory against Hartford Athletic on Friday night at Dillon Stadium as goals by Gabriel Obertan and Joel Johnson lifted the visitors to a fifth consecutive victory.
The Independence had a pair of early chances when in the third minute Dane Kelly broke onto a pass over the top and fired a low shot that was saved by Hartford’s Jeff Caldwell, while a few minutes later Obertan fired wide of the left post from just outside the top-left edge of the penalty area. The first good chance for the hosts came just before the half-hour mark, meanwhile, as Danny Barrera slid a pass into the right side of the penalty area for Preston Tabort Etaka, but his first-time finish went well over the crossbar.
Hartford took the lead eight minutes before halftime, however, as Tabort Etaka powered down the right side from just inside the Independence half and then delivered a low cross toward the six-yard area that Charlotte defender Hugh Roberts tried to steer wide, but instead directed into his own net for an own goal. Two minutes later the Athletic had a chance to add to its advantage when Tabort Etaka was played into the right side of the penalty area by Juan Carlos Obregon Jr. only to have his low shot turned away by Charlotte’s Austin Pack.
Charlotte responded four minutes into the second half when Johnson found space on the right to deliver a cross into the penalty area that found Kelly, whose cushioned header back set up Obertan for a smoothly taken volley that picked out the bottom-right corner of the net from 15 yards out.
The hosts quickly got back on the front foot to try and restore their lead and in the 55th minute Tabort Etaka fired just wide of the right post from 20 yards after shifting inside onto his left foot. A couple of minutes later Obregon went close as well after Barrera turned over possession and played the Honduran forward into the left side of the penalty area for a chipped finish that went just over the crossbar.
Midway through the second half, though, the Independence took the lead as Johnson once again received possession on the right but this time cut back into the top-right side of the penalty area and delivered a curling shot that picked out the left corner of the net bending around the dive of Caldwell as he tried to save.
Caldwell kept the hosts in the game with six minutes to go when he made an outstanding save to turn wide a curling shot by Charlotte’s Marcelo Palomino from the top of the penalty area directed toward the top-right corner of the net, and then followed up with a solid stop on Kevin Riascos’ header from the ensuing corner.
That almost proved crucial as the game went into stoppage time as a ball into the top of the Charlotte penalty area fell loose and Hartford’s Younes Boudadi reacted first, only for his first-time shot to go just over the crossbar. Then with the final chance of the game on a corner kick from the right, Barrera’s delivery into the near post was flicked on by Nicolas Cardona but the ball slid wide of the left post as Charlotte walked away with the win.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Kevin Riascos, Charlotte Independence – Riascos was strong on the back line all night, winning 7 of 7 duels and 3 of 4 tackles while recording five recoveries and three interceptions and completing 63 of 70 passes as the visitors took victory.
HFD – Hugh Roberts (Own Goal) 37’
CLT – Gabriel Obertan (Dane Kelly) 49’
CLT – Joel Johnson (Brandt Bronico) 68’