Atlético Ottawa was finally able to get a measure of revenge on Valour FC with a 1-0 victory in Winnipeg tonight.
After Atleti lost 6-1 at home in Ottawa when these two sides met earlier in the season, the clean sheet and victory came on the back of a strong defensive performance, before Zachary Verhoven’s late goal secured a big three points. They are now tied with Cavalry FC for the second-most points in the league with 14.
Valour was quick to put themselves on the front foot as Diego Gutiérrez blasted a volley towards goal in the third minute. One of the league leaders in blocked shots, Drew Beckie, was there to deny his effort. Unfortunately, Beckie did so with the back of his head which led to a stoppage as the Ottawa captain was hurt on the play, but ultimately able to continue.
They kept the pressure going inside the opening ten minutes, as a well-delivered free-kick from Sean Rea narrowly missed the head of Brett Levis, leading to a string of Valour corners and half-chances.
Atlético Ottawa was next to have a foray into the attacking third and had a penalty shout in the 14th minute when Brian Wright was brought down in the box by Rayane-Yuba Yesli. His protests, however, went unheard by the official.
The half continued on in a bit of a stop-start manner, as multiple fouls, cards and injuries broke up any sort of rhythm for either side. Unfortunately, after a few minor injuries, an ankle injury to Alessandro Riggi forced the Valour attacker out of the game, replaced by Moses Dyer.
Dyer immediately made his presence felt, flying into the Ottawa half and forcing a free kick to the left of the Ottawa box. That opportunity, however, was squandered as Valour striker Walter Ponce was judged to have fouled his defender in the box.
After these two sides combined for five goals in the first half the last time they met, there was only a single shot on target in the opening 45 minutes of this match.
Ballou Tabla added a second shot of the match early in the second half, losing his marker in the box, but was unable to beat Yesli in the Valour goal.
That would be Tabla’s last action of consequence, as Carlos Gonzàlez chose to shuffle his deck in the 62nd minute by bringing on Carl Haworth and Vladimir Moragrega for Wright and Tabla.
But it was a Valour substitute, Jacob Carlos, who would create the next chance as he took a great low cross from William Akio and laid it off for Rea. The Valour attacker’s shot, however, was well over the bar.
Atlético was perhaps dealt another tough blow a few minutes later when it appeared as though the ball struck Valour defender Rocco Romeo’s hand in the box. Once again, however, their appeals did not result in a call.
At long last, however, Ottawa would get a moment of joy against Valour in the 83rd minute. Ollie Basset’s excellent through ball found Haworth, whose cross was directed into the net by fellow substitute Verhoven.
Valour fought to tie the match well into stoppage time, sending their entire squad into the box including Yesli on a couple of late set-piece opportunities. But even with the 6-foot-7 keeper as a target, they were unable to truly test Nate Ingham.
The ball did end up in the back of the net moments before the final whistle, but Ingham was clearly barged into and the play was ruled a foul not a goal, causing both sides to come together in a shoving match inside the Ottawa net.
84′ – Zachary Verhoven (Atlético Ottawa)
10′ — Brett Levis (Valour FC)
18′ — Ballou Tabla (Atlético Ottawa)
26′ — Alessandro Riggi (Valour FC)
37′ — Miguel Acosta (Atlético Ottawa)
62′ — Darryl Fordyce (Valour FC)
86′ — Vladimir Moragrega (Atlético Ottawa)
90′ + 2 — Sean Rea (Valour FC)
90′ + 7 — Rocco Romeo (Valour FC)