Valour 2-0 Forge: Efficient Valour Claims Important Three Points
It was a strong defensive performance from Valour, as they came out with a crucial 2-0 win against Forge on Friday night in the Canadian Premier League.
Winless in six of their last nine outings – including a 2-0 reverse to HFX Wanderers last weekend – Valour had four changes to their starting 11. Most of those adjustments came up front, most notably Anthony Novak. The former Hammer led the line at the start.
As for Forge, they have failed to win their last three matches. A 1-0 defeat at home to Pacific was their last match. Having lost top spot with that result, coach Bobby Smyrnoitis also made four changes to his eleven. Playing in a 3-4-3 system, it was a different look to what we have seen so far this season.
The visitors had the first chance of the game five minutes in. After a sloppy pass in the midfield, Forge captain Kyle Bekker played in Terran Campbell. The attacker’s shot, however, was straight at Rayane Yesli.
Most of the opening 20 minutes saw battles for the ball in the midfield as both teams tried to establish themselves in the match. Shots came at a premium, with several poor passes occurring on the IG Field pitch.
Campbell once again had a fantastic chance in the 22nd minute. A smooth transition saw Kwasi Poku play in Campbell. Yet, Campbell’s attempt failed to hit the target. Moments later, Bekker whipped in a dangerous ball, but Jordan Hamilton’s header was unable to test Yesli.
Hamilton also tried to beat Yesli in the 33rd minute. Another giveaway afforded space for the striker, whose effort from distance required the Valour keeper’s intervention.
The hosts took the lead a few minutes before the break. In what was their first effort of the match, the hosts struck. A corner whipped in by Kian Williams met the head of former Forge draft pick Guillaume Pianelli. The center back’s header had the perfect amount of power, leaving Forge keeper Triston Henry stationary.
Forge had a half chance to level the game just moments later. A well-worked move allowed Alexander Achiniotti-Jonsson space. The Swede tried to pick out a man, but Yesli cut out his cross.
That was the last meaningful attack of the first half. Valour went into the break with the lead for the first time this campaign.
Five minutes into the second stanza, Forge had another big chance: off the second phase of a free kick, Rezart Rama played in substitute Tristan Borges. The winger found Poku in the middle of the box, but the wide man could not keep his effort down.
Shortly past the hour mark, Valour doubled their advantage. Despite being pushed wider down the wing, Jared Ulloa still put in an inch-perfect cross to Walter Ponce. The Chilean connected sweetly with the cross, powering the ball past Henry.
Forge would not back down, and tried to get back into the match. A second wave from a corner saw Borges find Owolabi-Belewu with his cross. The center back nodded it down towards Hamilton, but he was unable to get a shot off.
Valour had a good chance at claiming a third with 20 minutes to play. Jaime Siaj brought the ball forward and passed it off to Williams. The attack-minded Williams curled in a shot which went straight to Henry.
Yesli was needed to deny James a stunner. The Forge center back was allowed far too much space in the midfield, ultimately lining up a shot. However, the Valour shot stopper was equal to it, requiring an acrobatic save to keep a potential clean sheet alive.
Achiniotti-Jonsson also tried to beat Yesli with a header off a cross. However, once more, the six foot seven keeper thwarted the opportunity. A few minutes later, substitute Aboubacar Sissoko had space on the right wing, finding James in the box. However, the latter fluffed his lines, giving Yesli a straightforward save.
Despite Forge’s best efforts, they just could not break down their opponents on the night. As a result, the Hammers slump to a third loss in four games, remaining on 16 points. They head to the west coast next for a Tuesday night clash with Vancouver FC.
As for Valour, they pick up their first win since the opening day of the season. The Winnipeggers move up to 12 points, currently good enough for fifth place. They will be back in action on Wednesday as they also travel to British Columbia. However, Phil Dos Santos’ men will have it more difficult, as they battle the current pacesetters Pacific.
Header Image Photo Credit: Canadian Premier League