Valour FC recorded their first win of the Phillip Dos Santos era on Thanksgiving Monday, as their attack came to life against the champions in a thrilling 3-1 win at IG Field over defending champions Forge FC.
Forge coach Bobby Smyrniotis was forced to rotate his side a little for this game, with Mo Babouli and Jonathan Grant both sidelined with yellow card accumulation suspensions. Smyrniotis changed his front three wholesale, with David Choinière, Woobens Pacius, and Joshua Navarro coming in. Valour, meanwhile, maintained a similar 4-2-3-1 setup to what they’ve used in each game under Phillip Dos Santos so far, as Moses Dyer returned to start at centre-forward with Rafael Galhardo just behind him.
The home side got proceedings underway very quickly, as Moses Dyer ran straight into the box and held off his defender with force before sending a perfect pass across goal where Rocco Romeo was in position to tap it in and make it 1-0 in just the fifth minute of the game.
Forge began to exert some pressure with possession over the next 20 minutes, but it would actually be Valour with the more dangerous chances in that stretch — including one effort from Dyer that caromed off the goalpost, and a deflected shot by Daryl Fordyce that drew a spectacular save out of Forge ‘keeper Triston Henry. Down at the other end, Elimane Cisse put one off the post for Forge shortly after, but the visitors still couldn’t find the target.
Eventually, though, Forge did find a first-half breakthrough. In the 39th minute, Kyle Bekker found space down the right side, and he fired a low cross into traffic toward goal. Valour defender Stefan Cebara couldn’t quite deal with the ball, and it came to Garven Metusala for the finish to make it 1-1.
The level score was short-lived, though. Just on the brink of halftime, Valour’s William Akio picked up the ball in transition deep in his own half with acres of space ahead of him. He beat his marker and tipped the ball through Cisse’s legs to continue a superb solo run all the way into the box, before finishing cleverly with his left foot for a highlight-reel effort to put Valour back in front.
Looking to get back into the game, Forge deployed Panamanian forward Omar Browne at halftime in place of Pacius. He nearly equalized 10 minutes into his shift with a tricky backheel in traffic off a set-piece, but he couldn’t beat goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois.
With those early chances gone unfinished, it would actually be Valour who scored next. Just before the hour mark, Raphael Ohin found Moses Dyer at full speed with a terrific ball over the top, which Dyer settled before beating Henry with a powerful low shot to the far post.
With Valour hanging on for the victory, they moved to just four points back of HFX Wanderers FC for the fourth and final playoff spot. Forge, meanwhile, remain in second, two points back of Pacific FC, having missed Monday’s opportunity to take over the top of the table.
5′ — Rocco Romeo (Valour FC)
39′ — Garven Metusala (Forge FC)
45′ — William Akio (Valour FC)
59′ — Moses Dyer (Valour FC)
51′ — Yellow: Daryl Fordyce (Valour FC)
58′ — Yellow: Andy Baquero (Valour FC)
64′ — Yellow: Rafael Galhardo (Valour FC)
76′ — Yellow: Chris Nanco (Forge FC)
90′ — Yellow: Johnny Son (Forge FC)
90+2′ — Yellow: Omar Browne (Forge FC)
90+3′ — Yellow Tristan Borges (Forge FC)