WE ARE BACK!
Valour FC played host to HFX Wanderers FC in their home opener today.
While this match was not originally slated to be the opener for the faithful at IG Field in South Winnipeg, a postponement of the May 1, 2022 match due to Canadian Premier League (CPL) COVID protocols pushed The Trench’s return to this May 7, 2022 match against Halifax.
The first half was rather uneventful, despite the statistics reflecting a plethora of shots at goal favouring the visiting Wanderers (only 3 were on target). Most of HFX’s attempts came from well outside the area and few troubled Valour’s Golden-Gloved Jonathan Sirois.
At the other end of the pitch, the wind proved to be a limiting factor for Valour’s offence, blowing directly into their attacker’s faces. Much to the delight of Halifax Keeper, Kieran Baskett, this led to very few attempts at goal by the home side with Valour being outshot 12 to 3.
With the wind now at their back, Valour had more designs on pushing the pace in the opening minutes of the half. In the 52nd minute, a hard foul drew a yellow card and an opportunity for Valour on a set-piece. Unfortunately, the opportunity was not realized, and the match maintained its 0-0 scoreline.
In the 55th minute, Halifax countered with a well-hit strike from Pierre Lamothe, who had come on as a substitute at the half. As fantastic as the shot was, the save by Sirois was even better, extending his outstretched hand to its limit and knocking the ball into the air before finally jumping on it.
Sirois’ save seemed to galvanize the team’s effort, as much of the offensive possession was held by Valour for the following ten to fifteen minutes, including a great opportunity for fan-favourite William Akio in the 68th minute that gave Baskett a little worry.
Inspired by Akio’s attempt, Brett Levis turned several defenders inside-out before finding an open Matteo De Brienne at the top of the box, who had a go at goal that didn’t miss by much. De Brienne had come on as a sub just minutes earlier.
In the 90th minute, Brett Levis was called on a weak foul in a particularly dangerous area just outside the Valour 18-yard box. Luckily, for the Valour fans, the wall did its job and kept the attack away.
Just one minute later, a similar situation saw Valour have an opportunity from about 10 yards outside the Halifax area, also to no avail.
The match ended in a nil-nil draw, leaving Valour with a record of 1 win, 2 draws, and 1 loss.
While the obvious choice from today’s match is goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois, I’d like to go a different direction.
Sean Rea is an inspired footballer. He isn’t the fastest on the pitch (not that he’s slow, by any means), but his vision and soccer sense allow him to get the step on most defenders because he’s already moving before anything is happening. Every time there’s a race to the ball, Rea has a head start.
That same vision allows him to pick out his teammates on runs, and adding in his phenomenal ball control, he can play them through with accuracy that is unmatched in the CPL.
The CF Montreal loanee is back this season with Winnipeg’s CPL club to gain some playing time, and it’s certainly a win for Valour and head coach Phil Dos Santos.
Valour’s next match will be in Vancouver against the Whitecaps in the Canadian Championship. Kickoff is at 9pm CDT, so be sure to take a nap at some point during the day so you can watch it to the end.