Valour FC Routs Atletico Ottawa 4-0 For First Island Games Win
A physical, hotly-contested match saw Rob Gale’s Valour FC take all three points over expansion side Atletico Ottawa, recording the side’s biggest win in club history. For Ottawa head coach Mista, he saw back-to-back red cards drastically impact his side’s time at the Island Games tournament.
Rob Gale was forced to withdraw Ligue1 veteran Arnould Bouka-Moutou after a hamstring injury from his side’s first match, with the gaffer rewarding Raphael Ohin’s fine performance with a start while giving former Nine Stripes attacker Austin Ricci a debut appearance for the side.
Atletico Ottawa head coach Mista made a few adjustments of his own, with Mohamed Kourouma changing to a wing-back role due to the suspension of Vashon Neufville, Vancouver Whitecaps loanee Gianfrancho Facchineri getting his debut, and Ben McKendry getting a start.
Valour FC forward Fraser Aird got an early yellow card just minutes into the game after a heavy touch saw him lunge forward into a dangerous tackle, with the 25-year-old now joining three other players at the top of the yellow card accumulation table. The early rash challenge set the tone for the physical matchup that would follow.
Atletico Ottawa goalkeeper Nacho Zabal – who made a few fine stops against York9 FC last week – was called in to action quickly to stop a close effort from former Nine Stripe Austin Ricci in the sixth minute. Moments later, Ricci would then goad a yellow card out of Milovan Kapor, deftly turning beyond the centre-back before being dragged down in a professional foul. It’s a card that would later come back to haunt the expansion side.
Valour FC continued to press with former Vancouver Whitecaps product Brett Levis coming close in the 25th minute, turning to make himself space and firing a shot that saw Zabal tip the ball off of the post and out. Moments later, Zabal would find himself called in to action yet again to save a fast and low effort from Austin Ricci, with Valour FC still denied their first goal of the tournament.
Both sides got into it moments later, with Ricci and Martinez getting a yellow apiece as referee Filip Dujic laid down his rule over the pitch. Perhaps the closest chance of the game came after a deft freekick for Rob Gale’s side resulted in a low cross in the box, with Toronto FC loanee Julian Dunn coming within inches of scoring the go-ahead goal late in the first half.
Valour FC did a great job in limiting Francisco Acuna’s time on the ball, which was no small feat considering what he was able to do against York9 FC last weekend. As a result, the second half would see head coach Mista replace Acuna with Ottawa’s youngest player, Antoine Coupland.
Ottawa would then knock on the door with Malcom Shaw cutting inside and blasting a shot at James Pantemis, who’s rebound ended up at the feet of Atletico Ottawa captain Ben Fisk. Fisk then fired an effort off the post, coming just inches away from breaking through for his new team.
Minutes later, Rob Gale’s side would be gifted a golden opportunity to score after Milovan Kapor dragged down Stefan Cebara in the box. After some discussion among the officials, Kapor was handed a second yellow and given his marching orders. For the second game in a row, Atletico Ottawa went a man down in the second half.
Former Rangers man Fraser Aird stepped up to the spot, placing a shot to the right while Nacho Zabal dived the wrong way. For the first time at the Island Games tournament, Rob Gale’s side had the lead (and a man advantage, to boot).
Things got worse for Atletico Ottawa when Brandon John nearly let the ball drop to Masta Kacher in the 71st minute, with the rebound then seeing a strong effort from Austin Ricci denied yet again. While Ricci may not have a goal to show for his performance tonight, he certainly seemed an effective striker under Gale’s system.
Valour FC would then double the lead through Andrew Jean-Baptiste (who we said was the side’s most impressive newcomer so far), who rose high in the air to head home a set piece and provide the insurance goal for Rob Gale.
Masta Kacher would then find himself on the receiving end of the referee’s sixth card of the night after colliding with Brandon John, who went down in a heap after the incident. Thankfully, the centre-back was able to stay on for the rest of the match.
Former Toronto FC II Shaan Hundal caught the Atletico defense sleeping in the game’s final minutes, nearly tipping home a close range effort that Zabal was able to keep out fort a corner. Zabal would be called into action a minute later when a low outside-of-the-box effort from Dylan Carreiro nearly snuck into the right-hand corner.
The Winnipeg midfielder would have the last laugh, banging home another out-of-the-box effort that slotted into the left corner of the net despite a touch from the under-siege Nacho Zabal.
The late collapse of Atletico Ottawa continued moments later, with the defensive gap of Kapor allowing space for Hundal to find veteran Spaniard Jose Galan, who collected the ball in the box and piled on the misery for Atletico Ottawa by firing home another goal.
The scoreline would remain locked at 4-0 in favour of Rob Gale’s heavily-reconfigured side for the rest of the match, with Valour FC having put in an impressive performance for the full ninety. The result is the club’s biggest-ever win in Canadian Premier League action.
As things stand, the Winnipeg-based side move up to third place with three points on the board with a healthier goal difference, while Atletico Ottawa remain at one point after two games played.
Valour FC will have a few days before it takes on York9 FC this Saturday, while expansion side Atletico Ottawa will have an extra day of rest before they take on FC Edmonton this Sunday.