Tied for first place in the Canadian Premier League standings heading into their clash on Saturday, Atlético Ottawa and Cavalry FC would also finish the night that way, as they split the spoils in a 1-1 draw in CPL action.
In a top-of-the-table clash between two in-form teams, they certainly proved their credentials as league leaders in this match, leaving the draw as a fair result.
Right from the beginning of the match, the energy of the match was certainly that of a big game, as both teams refused to give up an inch to their opposing members.
After a cagey start to the game, Cavalry would strike first in the 20th minute, as they did well to win a set-piece high up the pitch. There, with a chance to have a go from 25 yards, up stepped José Escalante, and he’d unleash a beauty, curling one into the top corner around the wall for his second free-kick goal in as many games, giving his team the lead in the process.
Eager to respond to that, Ottawa nearly got back in the game right away, however, as they chased an equalizer.
Having found some space down the left-hand side, Ballou Tabla curled a great low strike towards the back post, but his attempt would be blocked by a Cavalry defender. Then, on the ensuing rebound, he tried a similar shot, but that too would be blocked, although the bounce it took did see it nearly roll in, just finding itself kept out by the safe hands of Marco Carducci.
Continuing a cagey start to the game, however, the next good chance for either side wouldn’t come until right before halftime. There, Ottawa’s Ollie Bassett nearly pulled off some magic, slicing through a couple of Cavalry defenders before unleashing a dangerous left-footed strike, one that would only be kept out by the head of Karifa Yao.
Other than that, though, that’d be all the first half had to offer, leaving both teams to go and regroup at halftime.
Which, to give credit to Ottawa, they certainly took full advantage of, as they came storming out of the gates in the second half. After a nice ball into the box, one that fell to Tabla, he’d manage to play a quick 1-2 with Malcolm Shaw, before unleashing a rocket of a shot on his left foot, smashing the ball into the top corner with authority to tie things up.
Not satisfied with that, Ottawa nearly grabbed a second just a few minutes later, too, as Zakaria Bahous found Tabla with a lofted cross towards the back post, but Tabla’s volley attempt would sail well wide of the goal from close range.
Soon after, Tabla had another good look at goal from outside of the box, as a ball settled nicely for him to strike on his left foot, but his shot curled just over the crossbar.
Having survived all that pressure, Cavalry then nearly regained their lead in the 58th minute, as a dangerous ball fell to Karifa Yao inside the box off a set-piece, and the Cavalry centre back did well to unleash a shot on his left foot, although his attempt would just fizzle past the post.
Then, they came close off of a 64th-minute corner, one that Charlie Trafford did well to get his head on, narrowly sending his attempt over the goal from in-tight.
At the other end, Ottawa looked to finish the game off on a bang in the 82nd minute, as Bassett decided to line up an ambitious shot from distance, but his attempt would be easily saved by Carducci.
From there, however, that’d be all that either team had to muster up, leaving them to share the points on the night.
20′ — José Escalante (Cavalry FC)
47′ — Ballou Tabla (Atlético Ottawa)
75′ — Yellow: Miguel Acosta (Atlético Ottawa)
83′ — Yellow: Mason Trafford (Cavalry FC)