By Dan Clubbe.
Packed full of goals and plenty of excitement, the quick turnaround of matches has lead to a mini-World Cup style feel to the 2020 Canadian Premier League — just as you are getting over one match, the next is kicking off.
This week, the Island Games have been thrown wide open once more just as it looked like last year’s finalists were running away with proceedings. Both Forge FC and Cavalry FC contrived to lose their respective matches, giving the chasing pack plenty of hope once again.
Here’s how the action played out in the fourth official round of fixtures.
All matches played behind closed doors at UPEI, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
Pacific FC 2-0 Valour FC
Woeful Valour defending led to the opening goal after just four minutes, Alejandro Diaz couldn’t believe his luck when was presented with the ball and an open net at the back post. Valour’s best chance of an equaliser came when Shaan Hundal found himself clear on goal after a misplaced midfield pass from Alessandro Hojabrpour, Hundal could only find the legs of Pacific keeper Callum Irving.
As the match entered the final 10 minutes, Pa-Modou Kah’s side put the outcome beyond doubt when a sumptuous lobbed ball from playmaker Marco Bustos saw striker Victor Blasco in the clear behind the defence. Moments later, Rob Gale’s men were given an opportunity to start a dramatic late comeback, Austin Ricci was adjudged to have been brought down in the box and Canadian midfielder Dylan Carreiro stepped up to take the resulting penalty. His effort was saved low down to the left by Irving who was not to be beaten on the night.
Three points moved Pacific to fifth and back into contention while Valour stay seventh and a little off the pace.
Read more of WFi’s Canadian Premier League coverage here:
York9 FC 3-2 Forge FC
Possibly the match of the tournament so far, which is saying something. York9 raced into a shock 2-0 half-time lead in the ‘905 derby’ thanks to goals from Kyle Porter and Joseph Di Chiara, special mentions to captain Manny Aparicio and Porter himself for the assists for the goals, Aparicio’s wonderful free-kick hitting the post before being turned in and Porter’s pinpoint corner finding the head of Di Chara at the near post.
After the break, Forge came out rejuvenated, with the words of coach Bobby Symrnitis still ringing in their ears no doubt. 25-year-old American Chris Nanco took matters into his own hands as he burst out of midfield to volley home his side’s first to get them back into the contest. Just minutes later, the match had parity once more when Swedish-born midfielder Alexander Achinioti-Jönsson found the back of the net following a goalmouth scramble.
After the disappointment of throwing away a two-goal cushion, it looked as though Jimmy Brennan’s side were headed towards a fourth consecutive draw, however, when Forge captain Daniel Krutzen handled the ball inside the box, York9 were awarded the chance to retake the lead. Canadian Di Chiara made no mistake from the spot and this time the nine stripes were able to hang on to their lead and earn their first win of the season.
FC Edmonton 1-3 HFX Wanderers
Both teams went in search of their first win of the 2020 campaign, and it was the Eddies who made the brighter start as 20-year-old starlet Antony Caceres weaved his way into the penalty area, only to be hacked down by Chrisnovic N’sa for a penalty shortly before the half-hour mark. Experienced striker Tomi Ameobi saw his low well-struck penalty tipped onto the post by Christian Oxner.
It proved to be a costly miss as Akeem Garcia found himself in the clear before firing home the opening goal of the match and his third of the tournament. The lead was doubled moments before half-time as this time João Morelli beat the offside trap to get in behind and score, all kinds of trouble for Edmonton defensively.
With 15 minutes to go, it was the Brazilian Morelli again on the mark to confirm the points, rounding off a neat HFX move with a left-footed volley into the bottom right-hand corner. With the match over as a contest, exciting 19-year-old Canadian Marcus Velado-Tsegaye scored the goal of the night, albeit a consolation. His right-footed strike from the edge of the box was placed only where a postage stamp would normally sit in the very top right-hand corner.
Edmonton are left floundering at the bottom of the standings with just one point while the Wanderers keep their own qualification hopes alive.
Atletico Ottawa 2-0 Cavalry FC
All players and officials stood before the match, arms linked throughout the national anthem as some took to one knee in poignant solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of more dreadful ongoings in the USA, the action itself was brought to a standstill on eight minutes and 42 seconds as all involved took to one knee.
When the action began it was a famous night on PEI as Atletico Ottawa picked up their first win in the club’s short history, beating last year’s runners-up Cavalry to round off this group of fixtures. Goalless at half-time after both teams could only muster half-chances, it was Mista’s side who came out firing after the break.
Twice capped Canada international Ben Fisk grabbed Ottleti’s first as he found himself in acres of space inside the penalty area, the captain sliding the ball home to give his side the advantage with 60 minutes gone. The advantage was doubled in sensational style when Cavs centre-back Jay Wheeldon made a mess of a long ball and allowed Malcolm Shaw to audaciously lob Marco Carducci from almost 40 yards. Nathan Mavila squandered two glorious chances to get the Calgarians back into the match but it was the men in the famous red and white stripes who celebrated.
Although Cavalry and Forge still sit first and second respectively, both have played a match more than the chasing pack and their lead has been cut following their defeats this week. York9 and HFX are the main benefactors as they climb into the top four qualification spots ahead of round five starting on Saturday.
Valour FC v FC Edmonton, Saturday
HFX Wanderers v York9 FC, Saturday
Cavalry FC v Pacific FC, Sunday
Atletico Ottawa v Forge FC, Sunday