Kelly double gives Charlotte a play-off spot in the USL ChampionshipWednesday, October 20, 2021
TAMPA BAY, United States (CMC) — Jamaican striker Dane Kelly found the back of the net twice and Charlotte Independence clinched a play-off spot with a 5-1 victory over Charleston Battery in the United Soccer League (USL) Championship on Saturday.
Kelly, the all-time leading scorer in the USL Championship, struck in each half of the match against his former club and continued his race to become the first player to score 100 goals in the league at American Legion Memorial Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. The 30-year-old now has 99 goals in the regular season for his career in the championship.
As a result of Kelly's efforts the Independence wrapped up the Southern Derby Cup and moved another step closer to a second-place finish in the Atlantic Division, where they are 10 points behind leaders Tampa Bay Rowdies.
“I've thought about it, but getting the win is more important than getting 100 goals,” Kelly told the Independence website. “Obviously, it's something I want to achieve, but the most important thing was getting the three points.”
Kelly put Independence ahead 2-0 with an easy header after Battery goalkeeper Paul Lewis mishandled a free kick in the 24th minute, and he scored the second of two penalties for his team in the 80th minute after French attacking midfielder Sylvain Marveaux was brought down in the box by the keeper.
Marveaux opened the scoring for the Independence in the 12th minute when he controlled a pass from Jake Areman on the left and finished with a cracking shot to the top-right corner of the net for his sixth goal of the season.
In first-half stoppage time, Battery scored off a corner kick after the ball came into the box and bounced around a few times before finding the head of Romario Piggott.
Enzo Martinez scored from the penalty spot in the 61st minute to return the two-goal advantage to the Independence after Areman drew a foul inside the box, and just before the final whistle Valentin Sabella played a cross into the box which deflected off a Charleston defender and fell directly at the feet of Gabriel Obertan, whose shot in the lower left corner of the goal was unerring.
“It is one step towards our goal,” Independence Head Coach Mike Jeffries said. “We definitely wanted to be a play-off team.
“We felt all along that we were capable of being a play-off team. It takes the weight of getting the 'X' by your name off us now. We'll just continue to try and finish the season as strong as we can and get to the best position we can for the play-offs.”
The Independence will be on the road to face Hartford Athletic on Friday at Dillon Stadium.