By Dan Clubbe.
It was yet more disappointment for Cavalry and FC Edmonton this week despite both sides needing the points for very different reasons.
The top four remains wide open going into the final three rounds of fixtures as all teams mathematically have a chance of qualifying for the finals.
Here’s how the action played out…
All matches behind closed doors at UPEI, Charlottetown, PEI
Valour FC 2-1 FC Edmonton
Valour moved into the top four with their win over a struggling FC Edmonton side, who remain bottom having picked up just one point from five matches.
After a first-half lacking in overall quality, it was the introduction of Northern Irishman Daryl Fordyce that sparked the match into life. Austin Ricci was tripped up inside the area by Eddies defender Mélé Temguia, which meant Fordyce, who had only been on the field a matter of seconds, stepped up to take the penalty. Perhaps not warmed up enough, the 32-year-old fired his penalty weakly at the goalkeeper, however, the ball came straight back to the forward to calmly roll home at the second time of asking to give the Winnipegers the lead.
With their backs to the wall once more, Jeff Palus’ side hit back through Easton Ongaro, the powerful 22-year-old got in front of his defender to head home and level the scores. Both teams had chances to steal the points and it was Valour who took theirs, a corner went right through the box and fell to Mastanabal Kacher who expertly volleyed into the top left-hand corner to seal the win with just two minutes left on the clock.
HFX Wanderers 1-1 York9 FC
After a cagey opening from two evenly matched teams who both have aspirations of making the finals, it was York9 captain, Manny Aparicio who gave his side the advantage with a wonderful free-kick from 20 yards out, the midfielder’s effort gave Christian Oxner no chance in the HFX net.
Moments later, the Wanderers were handed a further blow as Joao Morelli received a straight red card for flinging an elbow at Joseph Di Diara off the ball, the referee spotted the incident and gave the Brazilian forward his marching orders.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Stephen Hart’s side had the better of the match and it paid dividends when, in the 91st minute, Omar Kreim scored directly from a wide free-kick, his left-footed cross-cum-shot eluded the entire waiting crowd and found its way in at the back post to earn a share of the points.
Cavalry FC 1-2 Pacific FC
The wheels are well and truly stuck for the Cavs who have now lost their last two matches in pursuit of consecutive finals. For Pacific, they move into third with a game in hand over the top two. It was Canada international Marco Bustos who opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, allowed to cut back onto his left foot inside the area, the 24-year-old coolly picked his spot and fired past Marco Carducci. Moments later, the Cavs thought they’d equalised when Robert Boskovic headed home from a free-kick, only to be told he was marginally offside.
A costly disallowed goal as Pacific went straight up the other end and doubled their advantage through Alejandro Diaz, the Mexican could not miss from less than a yard after fine work to deliver the cross from Victor Blasco. Diaz, perhaps, should’ve put the game beyond doubt shortly before half time for Pa-Modou Kah’s side but his effort hit the bar from a little over a yard this time.
Eight minutes into the second half, Jordan Haynes was adjudged to have fouled Bruno Zebie inside the box, albeit staggeringly close to being outside, for a Cavs penalty and a route back into the contest. Wing-back and former West Ham United youngster Nathan Mavila duly obliged and fired his penalty comprehensively home to make it 2-1. Tommy Wheeldon Jr’s men pushed but they could not find an equaliser as they succumbed to their second straight loss.
Atletico Ottawa 0-2 Forge FC
Buoyed by their first victory in their history, the team in the famous red and white stripes were brought back down to earth with a bang as Forge FC — many people’s favourites — moved to the top of the standings with this win.
Bobby Smyrniotis will have been pleased with the performance of his side as Forge controlled much of the match, eventually taking the lead on 36 minutes when Maxim Tissot’s corner found the free head of Daniel Krutzen who scored into an empty net after the Ottawa keeper had committed to claiming the ball.
Having dominated possession, the only surprise was how long it took Forge to wrap up the points, the second goal coming in the last minute of normal time when David Choiniere’s mazy run saw him go past two defenders and fire into the roof of the net, sending Forge away with the points and to the top of the table.
Cavalry need to rediscover their form going into the final matches of the league stages, as both Pacific and Forge continue to look the most impressive sides on show in 2020. For FC Edmonton, a dramatic change could be afoot as they aim to hold back the tide and hope to pick up their first win of the campaign.
FC Edmonton v York9 FC Wednesday
Valour FC v HFX Wanderers Wednesday
Pacific FC v Atletico Ottawa Thursday