PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND – It was a moment that Valour FC supporters will remember for a long time to come. Wednesday afternoon’s match with Atletico Ottawa was their largest margin of victory so far in their clubs history. In the end, Valour FC score goals through Fraser Aird, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Dylan Carreiro, and Jose Galan en route to a 4-0 trashing of the expansion side Atletico Ottawa.
Valour FC Score Four on 10-man Ottawa
In a game that was controlled by Valour FC from start to finish, it looked like a goal may never come for the Winnipeg side. A full hour was in the books without a goal for either side, despite Valour creating most of the chances.
However, in the 64th minute, Valour caught a break that changed the complexion of the match for good. Wingback and new signee Stefan Cebara was in behind the Atletico defense and was pulled down in desperation by Ottawa defender Milovan Kapor. Kapor, already on a yellow card, got sent off on the play, and VFC won themselves a penalty kick. Fraser Aird took the penalty and didn’t miss, scoring his first for his new club.
After that, Ottawa couldn’t handle the Valour attack down a man, and the result was never in doubt the rest of the way. Valour found three more goals on the path to a convincing victory. After a deflating performance against Cavalry on Sunday, where they failed to register a shot on target, this win should go a long way to pick up the spirits for the players the rest of the way these Island Games.
Valour FC tactical approach
— ValourFC (@ValourFootball) August 19, 2020
Due to the injury to Arnold Bouka Moutou, Rob Gale was forced to drop winger Brett Levis back to a deeper role. In fact, both wingbacks today, Cebara and Levis, usually prefer to play more forward as wingers. To allow both of these fullbacks to join the attack, defensive midfielder Raphael Ohin would drop back and help out as a third centreback from time to time for cover. This allowed both wingbacks to join the attack, and both caused problems for Atletico’s fullbacks.
In addition, Ottawa was without leftback Vashon Neufville as he sat out his one match suspension today. This exposed Ottawa’s left side of defense, and Aird, Cebara and Diego Gutierrez had plenty of space to work with, and the three orchestrated a lot of the attack in the first half.
Another change Valour made was up front. Former York 9 striker Austin Ricci lead Valour’s line, replacing former TFC prospect Shaan Hundal. Ricci looked dangerous at times, having a couple decent scoring opportunities that just didn’t go in for him. Such was the story for the rest of VFC for most of the first half.
After the ugly performance against Cavalry, it was a lot easier to watch Valour attack this time around. Ottawa gave them more time and space to craft more dangerous attacks, and VFC looked an actual threat to score. However, despite this, Valour couldn’t break the deadlock going into halftime. Only after Ottawa was down to ten men Valour was able to finish.
Close call for Valour
After a dominant first half, the best chance of the first hour of play went the way of Atletico. Things were going well for Valour, but they switched off for just a moment and Ottawa had two chances to break the shutout.
First, Malcolm Shaw caught Jean-Baptiste napping, and cut back onto his left foot. He unleashed a powerful strike that forced goalkeeper James Pantemis into action. After a realtively quiet first half, Pantemis made a nice save.
However, the rebound fell straight to Ben Fisk, and the former Pacific FC star saw his rebound hit the post. It appeared Pantemis got just enough to steer it onto the post, either way it was a let off for Valour. In the end, that was really all that Ottawa produced going forward, but it was nearly enough to give them a lead.
SAVE (x2) | #CanPL 🍁
James Pantemis comes up huge for @ValourFootball, making a HUGE stop on Malcolm Shaw, before following up on the rebound, smacked off the post.
That’s as close as @AtletiOttawa has come to opening the scoring…
— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) August 19, 2020
Valour Erupt for four goals
After Kapor was shown the red card, Ateltico Ottawa looked out of sorts. Valour wasted no time, as Canadian international Fraser Aird converted the ensuing penalty kick. Then, in the 77th minute, Haitian international Andrew Jean-Baptiste headed home a corner kick off the boot of Levis.
Substitutes Dylan Carreiro and Jose Galan added insurance goals in stoppage time to complete the 4-0 scoreline. In a tournament with so few games played such as this one, a 4-0 win like this can come in huge for Valour if tiebreakers come into play down the line.
— CanPL (@CPLsoccer) August 19, 2020
From an Ottawa perspective
Atletico manager Mista will be very upset to see his side go down a man for the second game in a row. After going up 2-0 into half on York 9 last week, they conceded twice after the ejection to drop points.
Now, midweek, Kapor is sent off and Ottawa concedes four consecutive goals to lose big. With a squad that already doesn’t have tons of depth, Ateltico cannot afford to deal with suspensions game after game. Not only are they throwing away points in the table, they’re putting themselves at a big disadvantage for the next game.
Midfielder Francisco Acuna was a great disappointment in this match. After picking up an assist in his Ateltico debut, he followed it up with a lackluster performance today. Acuna lasted just 45 minutes before he was substituted off at halftime.
A player with his pedigree, coming from Liga MX, Ottawa will be counting on him to turn in better displays than this one. Ben Fisk, who did have Atletico’s best chance, was also largely ineffective. Ottawa will need their stars to show up soon if they have any hope in advancing past the round robin.
It is rare when you can say a keeper who let in four goals was a standout performer, but Nacho Zabal was good today. He kept a persistent Valour attack at bay until the sending off. After that, Atletico left him out to dry, leaving too many Valour players with too much space inside the area. He did end up making seven saves on the day however, and he shouldn’t hang his head after his performance.
Next up for Ottawa is a Sunday afternoon clash with FC Edmonton. They will be without Kapor, but Vashon Neufville will return from a suspension.
From a Valour perspective
Rob Gale will be pleased to see his side respond to that embarrassing 2-0 loss to Calvary with a convincing performance today. Valour had times last year where they really struggled to consistently create offence, so to see the floodgates open here is promising for this season. They looked stronger at the back too than a year ago.
While the wingbacks Levis and Cebara added attacking prowess, Jean-Baptiste and TFC loanee Julian Dunn brought their ‘A’ games defensively. In particular, Jean-Baptiste was a physical presence and Dunn was impressive with his distribution for a Centreback. The TFC prospect was 45/49 on passes today. If Valour can keep their backline up to the level it was today, they’re on the right track to have success in PEI.
All goals up a man
Despite the 4-0 result, Valour FC scored every goal while being a man up. They’ll no doubt take the result, but they controlled the game for sixty minutes and couldn’t score a goal at even strength. That is a concern, especially after the lack of offence shown against Calvary.
They did look better in the first half, but when they play the likes of Forge and York, they might not be so fortunate to go a man up. Going forward, they need to prove they can take their chances when the sides are at full strength.
After last year though, where they didn’t dominate many games like they did in this one, Gale and his staff should enjoy their convincing win without too much worry. Goals were hard to come by last season, so no one should be complaining after the four they got today.
James Pantemis, Montreal Impact loanee, collected the clean sheet, making three saves. Valour FC will take on York 9 FC on Satruday, which will be a game with potential huge playoff implications. The status of Arnold Bouka Moutou is unknown for that game.