PITTSBURGH – Russell Cicerone’s 16th goal of the season lifted Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC to a 2-1 victory against the Charleston Battery on Saturday night at Highmark Stadium as the hosts remained in contention for a second-place finish in the USL Championship’s Atlantic Division after claiming the winner with 11 minutes to go.
Neither side took control early, but the Hounds threatened in the 17th minute after earning a corner kick on the right. Kenardo Forbes’ delivery found Jelani Peters in the center of the penalty area for a header that was tipped over the crossbar by Battery goalkeeper Joe Kusminsky. The hosts threatened again nine minutes later as Forbes cut back a pass from the left side of the penalty area that Todd Wharton clipped wide of the left post, but in the 27th minute Wharton put Pittsburgh ahead as he first volleyed a cross from the left by Dani Rovira off the left post before Cicerone gathered the ball on the rebound and fed the midfielder for a second chance he turned home from 10 yards.
Cicerone tested Kuzminsky again on the half-hour mark with a narrow angle shot from the left side of the penalty area that was parried away, but the Battery almost hit back in the 34th minute when Angelo Kelly played a good pass into Claudio Repetto in the left side of the penalty area for a shot that was well turned away by Hounds goalkeeper Danny Vitiello.
Robbie Crawford also had a long-range strike for the visitors 10 minutes before halftime that was held by Vitiello, while 11 minutes into the second half Pittsburgh’s Tommy Williamson curled a free kick from beyond the top-right edge of the penalty area toward the near post that Kuzminsky turned wide of the upright for a corner kick.
Chances proved few for the Battery again as the second half began but in the 65th minute then pulled level when Zeiko Lewis found Nicque Daley 25 yards from goal for a shot that he blistered into the left corner of the net. The Hounds regained the lead with 11 minutes to go, however, as Cicerone struck with a sharp low finish from the left side of the penalty area after a crisp pass by Alex Dixon picked a gap in the Battery back line to send his strike partner through.
The Battery tried to find an equalizer again with three minutes to go as Stavros Zarokostas fired a shot from distance to the bottom-left corner of the net that Vitiello gathered calmly, but from there the Hounds saw out the win to remain neck-and-neck with the Charlotte Independence going to the final week of the regular season.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Russell Cicerone, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – Cicerone had one goal and one assist for the hosts and ended the night with five shots and three key passes in another influential performance in his career-best season.
PIT – Todd Wharton (Russell Cicerone) 27’
CHS – Nicque Daley (Zeiko Lewis) 65’
PIT – Russell Cicerone (Alex Dixon) 79’