It was a very entertaining and important week in the CPL, going into week five. After a COVID-19 postponement last week, Valour finally played a game at IG Field, and Atlético Ottawa hosted Pacific, knowing a win would see them join the current champions at the top of the CPL table. But to kick off the week was a pair of derbies, with both the 905 derby, and Al Classico both getting us underway this week on Friday night. We start off where we always seem to start off so far in the CPL this season, York Lions stadium for the latest edition of York United against Forge.
York United 1 – Forge 0
The Nine Stripes took home the bragging rights in the first 905 derby of the season in a tightly contested game against Forge. Playing at home for the fourth time in five games, York would’ve been looking to take the initiative, but it was the away side, however, who should’ve taken an early lead at York Lions stadium. Less than a minute in, Tristan Borges won the ball upfield and threaded a ball inch-perfect for Terran Campbell, whose goal was disallowed thanks to an offside call. Looking back at the replay, Campbell was actually onside and the goal should’ve stood.
The next chance for Forge would come on the twentieth minute from a Borges free-kick from twenty-five yards out. The midfielder got a lot of power in his shot, so much so that York keeper Niko Giantsopoulos had to punch away the ball, despite it coming straight at him. With five minutes to go in the half, Forge came close again after they had a sustained period of pressure in front of the United goal. The ball eventually fell to Kyle Bekker, and from outside the box he flighted a great ball into the path of Campbell from eight yards out, but his header from a tight angle could only find the hands of Giantsopoulos, as the half-finished 0-0.
The teams would exchange chances at the hour mark. Firstly from a Bekker corner, the ball broke perfectly for Forge winger David Choinière to hit a shot inside the box, but his half volley was deflected wide by Isaiah Johnston to deny Choinière’s goal-bound effort. About a minute later, Diyaeddine Abzi’s clearance found Sebastián Gutiérrez. The Colombian linked up with striker Osaze De Rosario, and after a favourable bounce, Gutiérrez found himself with a shooting chance in the box but dragged his effort just wide.
Gutiérrez wouldn’t have to wait long to make up for that miss. With seventy-seven minutes on the clock, Forge failed to properly clear Abzi’s cross, and the ball fell to Noah Verhoeven. Verhoeven passed the ball off to Gutiérrez, who after a clever give and go with De Rosario, was now in the box and jinx towards goal, leaving Forge defender Dominic Samuel on the ground, before then faking out Forge keeper Triston Henry into diving the wrong way and slotting home into the empty net giving the home side the lead. United held on to win and extend their unbeaten streak to a league-best four games, and jump to second in the table.
Edmonton 0 – Cavalry 3
It was thirteenth time unlucky for Edmonton, as Cavalry comfortably won the latest Al Classico fixture 3-0 at Edmonton’s Clarke Stadium. Cavalry decided to change up their usual 3-4-3 for a 4-1-4-1 in order to get more bodies in midfield, and it proved effective throughout the match. Nine minutes in, winger Jean-Aniel Assi drove the ball forward to Cavalry, eventually, the ball was worked to Fraser Aird out wide and his cross nearly made a connection with striker Joe Mason, with Edmonton’s keeper Andreas Vaikla getting a vital touch on the ball to keep the ball away from the striker. Aird was involved again twenty-three minutes in, this time giving the ball to Ali Musse, the midfielder went on a bursting run into the box before forcing a save from Vaikla, coming in for the rebound was Aird but his effort went well high of the crossbar.
Eventually, Cavalry’s attacking prowess wore Edmonton down. Twenty-nine minutes in, Edmonton substitute Simon Triantafillou gave the ball away deep in his own half, and after good play once again from Musse and Aird, the ball was played through to Joe Mason in the box, and the Irish striker made no mistake blasting the ball high into the net giving the visitors the lead. Four minutes later, Cavalry was denied a clear chance to double the lead when Luke Singh’s foul on Musse inside the box was wrongfully judged to have happened outside the box. leading to a free-kick as close to the penalty box as possible. It would prove to be all the same for the Cavs though, as Musse himself stepped up to fire the free-kick into the back of the net, doubling Cavalry’s lead going into halftime.
Cavalry continued their dominance to start the second half. Just two minutes in, Assi went on a run up the wing and played through Aird in the box, the fullback then squared the ball to striker Myer Bevan who put the ball just wide of the near post from close range. Edmonton had their first substantial effort on goal after fifty-five minutes, a long ball up top found T-Boy Fayia, and the winger set up Tobias Warschewski who played a great ball into the path of Kairo Coore whose shot on the turn went just wide of the net.
Another Edmonton giveaway in defence almost led to Cavalry again scoring. This time it was Cale Loughrey on the seventieth-minute mark who played the ball straight to Musse who after linking up with Ben Fisk and Victor Loturi found himself one on one with Vaikla and once again, the Estonian keeper came to Edmontons rescue before saving Bevans tame follow up. Cavalry would put the finishing touches on the scoreline with just two minutes left. Man of the match Ali Musse played the ball out wide to José Escalante, and his low cross into the box was unfortunately put across the line by Loughrey for an own goal, making the final score Edmonton 0 – Cavalry 3. It was another win for the city of Calgary in the CPL’s battle of Alberta, but with the two meeting in midweek for a Canadian championship clash, Edmonton will have a great chance to get revenge quickly.
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Valour 0 – HFX Wanderers 0
Valour and Halifax shared the spoils at IG Field in a game that time could’ve gone either way. Playing at home for the first time since October 26th, the home would’ve been looking to build from their stunning 6-1 win away at Ottawa, but indeed it was the Wanderers who had the best chances in the first half. Just two minutes in, HFX won a corner and from a Corey Bent delivery, the ball fell into the path of Peter Schaale with the defender forcing a point-blank save from Jonathan Sirois in the Valour goal. Twenty minutes in, an HFX throw-in into the box found midfielder Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé who played the ball into the path of HFX captain Andre Rampersad, Rampersad struck a shot towards goal only for a Valour defender to deflect it wide.
Rampersad was involved again ten minutes later. His ball out wide allowed fullback Zachary Fernandez to run into the box and pick out teammate Alex Marshall from twelve yards out, but the winger couldn’t keep his shot down as it sailed high of the goal. HFX had one last good chance before the break thanks to a swift counterattack. With forty-four minutes on the clock, defender Eriks Santos’s clearance found Bent free and the striker went on a long run upfield before playing in Marshall with space in the box, Marshall perhaps had too much time to think about what to do, however, and with defenders closing in on him, opted to pass the ball back to Bent and the Englishmen’s tame effort was cleared off the line by Valours Daryl Fordyce to keep the score 0-0 going into the half.
HFX once again had a great chance almost immediately to start the second half. Substitute Pierre Lamothe got the break of the ball upfield and it allowed him to run into the box towards the Valour goal. Defender Stefan Cebara did well to force Lamothe wide, forcing an angled shot that was easy for Sirois to save. Lamothe wouldn’t have to wait long for another chance, HFX again won the ball in Valour territory, and after some good link-up play from Gagnon-Laparé, Marshall and Bent, the ball was teed up for Lamothe just outside the box and his nineteen-yard strike forced a strong save from Sirois.
Despite the number of chances created by HFX, Valour was well and truly in this game which was proving to be an even contest. Just after the hour mark, Valour’s top scorer Moses Dyer showed great strength to hold off Rampdersad and curl an outside-of-the-box effort on target, forcing an easy save out of Wanderers keeper Kieran Baskett. They would test Baskett again just four minutes later, Dyer again was at the forefront winning the ball upfield and shielding the ball from a couple of HFX defenders, before playing in William Akio and the South Sudanese winger forced a saved from Baskett at his near post. Ultimately both teams were left wishing they were more clinical in front of goal as the match finished 0-0 leaving Valour sixth in the table, and HFX in fourth.
Atlético Ottawa 0 – Pacific 1
Pacific had Callum Irving to thank as Pacific won a top-of-the-table clash against Ottawa, extending their lead at the league summit thanks to a 1-0 win at TD Place Stadium. It wasn’t easy however, goalkeeper Callum Irving was required to be at his best and he was kept busy early on. Just seven minutes in, an Ollie Basset corner for Ottawa found the head of captain Drew Beckie, but the fullbacks header could only be directed into Ingram’s arms. Shortly after, Ottawa forward Ballou Tabla combined with fullback Maxim Tissot to set Tissot up with a shooting opportunity in the box and the fullback’s powerful low shot forced a reaction save from the Pacific keeper.
Drew Beckie, who was returning to action after serving a three-game suspension would once again have a chance twenty minutes in. Basset and Tabla linked up from a corner to find Ben McKendry whose flighted ball found Beckie in space at the back post but once again he could only guide the ball towards Irving. Tabla would be next to test Irving a minute later, from a McKendry pass out wide, the forward was powered towards goal forcing the former Ottawa Fury into a save at his near post. Despite Ottawa dominating the game, the score remained 0-0 at the half.
Pacific could consider themselves unlucky ten minutes into the second half. CPL player of the month for April Marco Bustos played a perfect cross-field ball to fullback Kunle Dada-Luke out wide and from there, Dada-Luke burst into the box with his across goal ball ushered wide of the goal by McKendry in what easily could’ve resulted in an own goal for the Ottawa midfielder. Dada-Luke would again play a part in the game’s next big moment, from just outside the box, he set up Manny Aparicio and when the midfielder’s strike struck the post, Pacific’s top scorer Alejandro Díaz was perfectly placed to head home the rebound and give the Vancouver Islanders the lead seventy-two minutes into the match their first effort on target.
Ottawa was looking to respond immediately. From a corner that Pacific couldn’t clear, defender Abdoul Sissoko eventually forced the ball into the path of substitute Vladimir Moragrega, but his snapshot towards the bottom right corner was smothered up by Irving. Indeed the last fifteen minutes was an onslaught from Atlético, with the home side forcing many saves from Irving. Ottawa’s bests chance for an equalizer came on the seventy-ninth minute when Tabla picked striker Malcolm Shaw in the box with acres of space around him. With time and the whole goal to aim at, the Toronto native was unfortunately underwhelmed with a tame effort that was easy for Irving to save, a miss that would go on to define Ottawa for the entirety of this match.
Despite having twenty-three shots at goal and eleven on target, Ottawa lost 1-0 to league leaders Pacific who held on, to extend their lead at the top to five points. Ottawa, who are now winless in three after starting the season with two consecutive wins will now be looking ahead to a Canadian Championship tie against their provincial foes, York United.
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