YORK REGION – The lone Canadian Premier League fixture on Sunday afternoon saw a spirited match between two sides vying for a spot among the elite, each aiming to join Cavalry FC in the CPL Championship series at the end of the Fall Season.
York9 FC got the upper hand on the night, beating FC Edmonton 2-1 at York Lions Stadium with Kyle Porter and Ryan Telfer providing the goals a few days removed from that epic draw against the Montreal Impact at the same venue midweek.
“We knew it was going to be a difficult game,” said York9 coach Jimmy Brennan. “I knew how much (Wednesday) took out of the boys. Coming in they were going to be heavy, fatigued, and you could see it in spells today. It showed the character and the resilience to grind through.”
“It wasn’t the most pretty game,” continued Brennan. “Normally we’ve got that ball moving all over the park, gave it away a little too easy at times. We went to press, weren’t pressing in numbers. You could see we were looking a little tired. That’s why we dropped off. We had to adjust during the game. It was a great team effort by the boys, I couldn’t be more proud of them grinding away.
“Good teams find a way to win and that’s what we did today.”
Edmonton entered the match as the form side in the league, having won their last four matches, unbeaten in five as they surged up the table at the end of the Spring Season and got the Fall off to a strong start with a win over Forge FC, who finished behind Cavalry, last weekend,
In a tight contest, as Edmonton’s Jeff Paulus remarked pre-match and York learned against the Impact, mistakes can be pivotal.
But it was the Eddies who would succumb to error in the 13th minute when an errant back-pass allowed Simon Adjei to break in on goal and unselfishly square to a wide open Porter, who scored his first goal of the season.
“The match played out the way we had scripted it for the most part,” said Paulus. “We knew the areas that we could attack them, knew how they wanted to attack us. For the most part, we limited their football. I don’t think they created opportunities on their own, with all due respect.
“The goal was our mistake: a turnover, should never happen in our half.”
Trailing at the half, the coach’s remarks in the locker room spurred his side to a better second frame.
“The first 45 minutes it wasn’t quite there,” admitted Edmonton captain Tomi Ameobi. “But we’ve got a group of great characters. We responded – got a bit of a talking to at half-time, but that’s what we needed. We came out, got a goal.”
Ramon Soria tucked a deep free-kick just inside the back-post in the 67th minute, the risk of a touch held York keeper Nathan Ingham off long enough for it to carom off the post and nestle in the net to put the sides level.
But then another moment of inattention struck when Telfer was allowed to sprint up the right-flank, latching onto a long ball from Manny Aparicio before picking out the far corner of the Edmonton goal.
“Maybe I’ve not shown enough video on Telfer,” lamented Paulus. “But one-vs-one and you want to get in a footrace with him? It’s impossible. There is not a defender in this league that is going to stay with him, at least not a centre-back. And he’s done us on a counterattack.
“It was against the run of play. I was getting ready to celebrate our victory.”
Two rounds into the second season, both sides find themselves in a pack of five teams tied on three points, once again chasing Cavalry, the only team with six in their pocket.
The Fall Season will determine who will join Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s side in that final.
York feels they belong there.
“We’re going for the league,” said defender Morey Doner.
“Second game of the (Canadian) Championship, we’re going for that too.”
Edmonton does too.
“If I didn’t think that, then I wouldn’t be here.” replied Connor James. “It’s something that every single player on this team believes, the coaching staff as well.”
“Our goal coming into the season was always to push for that championship game and not just be appearing in it, but winning,” continued the Edmonton keeper. “If you come in, saying, ‘Hey, we’re here to play’ – not ‘we’re here to win’, you’re not going to do well.
“We’re a team that can compete with anybody in this league. That said, I don’t think you should narrow it down to just the Forge’s and Cavalry’s. Any team, all seven of us, can beat any other on any given day. It’s the way the league goes, a lot of parity, but for sure we can compete with the best.”