Valour FC Heartbreak: Lose in Added Time

On May 21st, Valour FC were guests of Cavalry FC at ATCO Field in Calgary, Alberta. Not, you know, welcome guests or anything like that… the crowd was loud and proud of their club as the two sides took to the pitch.

Currently in 4th place, Valour are in what I call “question mark” form, with a record of 2-2-1 ahead of the clash with Cavalry. When they are playing at their best, they are a scary squad that nobody in their right mind would get excited about playing against. When they are not playing their best, they tend to make a lot of easily avoided gaffs that let their opponents back into the match. This form doesn’t go game-to-game, either. Many of their matches have been tales of two halves where they played brilliantly in one half and … “not so much” in the other half.

Luckily for Valour, their in-form play has outweighed their out-of-form play to the tune of 10 goals for and only 5 against, much of that credit attributed to the golden-gloved keeper, Jonathan Sirois.

Tied at 8 points with Valour before today’s match, Cavalry are hoping to take full advantage of their home crowd’s support. In their 6 games played (with a record of 2-2-2), they’ve managed 9 goals for and 7 goals against, but 5 of those matches were away fixtures. This match with Valour is just their second home game of the season.

KEYS TO THE MATCH

Valour is going to need to shoot more. They hold a respectable 48% shooting accuracy stat, but they just aren’t taking enough shots.

Going into today’s match, Valour had only attempted 44 shots this season, which is the second-fewest in the CPL above FC Edmonton (43), and only 21 of those hit the target, which also happens to be the second-fewest in the CPL above the Eddies (17). On top of that, 9 of those 21 shots on target came in a single match; a 6-1 thrashing of Athlético Ottawa back in April.

That said, Valour has only played 5 matches where every other club has played 6 or more. In fact, league-leaders Pacific FC have played 8 and boast an impressive 5-2-1 record.

Another major factor to keep in mind is Valour’s defenders. In some instances, they have looked unbeatable, while in other moments they have given away free shots or through-balls with minimal resistance.

Granted, Valour’s backline is missing a man that, when healthy, is arguably the best fullback in the CPL, Andrew Jean-Baptiste. In his absence, Valour has, at times, struggled to contain much of their opponents’ attacks, relying far too heavily on Sirois to bail them out.

Canadian Premier League – Cavalry FC v Valour FC – Calgary, Alberta, Canada May, 21, 2022 Anonio Romeo of Valour FC and Myer Bevan of the Calgary Cavalry vie for the ball in the first half. CFC Media\ Mike Sturk

Rocco Romeo has been a rock at the back for Valour, often cleaning up messes at the last moment.

On a number of occasions, Phil Dos Santos himself has mentioned his dislike of seeing so many shots against, and I bet Sirois would say the same thing.

So far, Sirois has been up to the challenge and has humbly given a lot of credit to his defenders, even in cases where onlookers might not necessarily agree that he had a ton of help.

FIRST HALF

Inside the first minute, Valour captain Daryl Fordyce had a reasonably decent go at goal from just outside the box. This was a good sign for a club that has struggled to get shots on target, as mentioned above. In this instance, Cavalry keeper Marco Carducci was up to the task.

Unfortunately, Valour wouldn’t have another decent opportunity until the 41st minute, which ended without an official shot on target.

Throughout the half, possession was more-or-less even, and while there was a lot of decent ball movement on both sides, the defensive side of the game was on full display at both ends. Very few errors by both sides led to a stalemated nil-nil first half.

Very near the end of the half, Cavalry defender Bradley Vliet committed a dangerous tackle that took out Valour striker William Akio, for which Vliet was given a yellow card. Thankfully, for the Valour faithful, Akio would be okay after receiving some attention from the physio team.

SECOND HALF

The middle section of the second half belonged largely to Cavalry, who threw everything at Valour’s backline. Valour stood tall and gave them zero ground. Despite the ball ending up in some dangerous places, the Valour defenders were able to block, tackle, and clear anything that came their way.

In the 79th minute, we saw the CPL debut of Walter Ponce, despite Dos Santos warning everyone not to expect him to get on the pitch today.

In the 83rd minute, Diego Gutierrez took down Charlie Trafford in the area and Cavalry was awarded a penalty kick. Myer Bevan would line up to challenge Sirois, who has an 80% save percentage on penalty situations. Unbelievably, Sirois made yet another stop on a penalty, but the rebound landed directly back on the feet of the taker, Bevan, who slotted it home.

In the 89th minute, a dangerous-looking Cavalry back-pass nearly led to an own-goal, but just missed the frame, giving Valour a corner. On the ensuing set-piece, Cebara buried a header to draw the match level at 1-1.

In added time, a very hard push-back by Cavalry provided a wide-open opportunity for Elijah Adekugbe to hammer in the winner.

Final result: Cavalry 2, Valour 1.

Canadian Premier League – Cavalry FC v Valour FC – Calgary, Alberta, Canada May, 21, 2022 Elijah Adekugbe of the Calgary Cavalry scores the winning goal in the 90th minute for a 2-1 victory. CFC Media\ Mike Sturk

Mark Adam

Mark Adam is the Operations Manager for The WPG Magazine.

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