Joe Mason salvaged a point late for the hosts in the latest edition of ‘Al Classico’ as his 89th-minute goal saw things finish all square between Cavalry FC and FC Edmonton in a 2-2 draw Sunday afternoon at ATCO Field.
Coming in a fresh group having last played in a 2-1 win away to Pacific back on August 20, Cavalry opted to change little from what worked so well on the West coast last week as the Cavs made just one change with Joe Di Chiara sliding into midfield in place of Nik Ledgerwood.
The visiting Eddies made four changes to the team that lost 3-0 to Valour on Wednesday, two of them forced as defender Amer Didic missed out through suspension while striker Tobias Warschewski picked up a knock midweek. The pair were replaced by Azriel Gonzalez and Adam Najem and Mélé Temguia and Sharly Mabussi also made way for Hunter Gorskie and Allan Zebie at the back.
Following some sloppy play in the defensive third from the hosts in the early goings, Adam Najem slipped Gonzalez in behind the Cavs backline and the Las Vegas native finished with his left foot to put Edmonton up 1-0 just seven minutes in.
After gradually sitting deeper and deeper to absorb any efforts from Cavalry to find an equalizer, the Eddies were pressed into coughing up possession in a dangerous position and while Di Chiara’s first shot was blocked by Hunter Gorskie, the Cavs midfielder made no mistake on the rebound as the former York9 player got his first goal for his new team.
Tommy Wheeldon Jr. and the hosts looked much more like themselves after getting their goal and if not for a few moments of heroics from Eddies keeper Connor James, Cavalry could have easily had the lead after 45′ — it would remain 1-1 at the interval thanks in large part to James.
Sustained pressure and a lion’s share of the ball went Cavalry’s way to start the second half and despite a sense of real control from the home team, Edmonton would earn a penalty kick against the run of play in the 65th minute as the referee deemed Escalante handled the ball inside his own box. Aird stepped up for the Eddies and coolly deposited the ball into the bottom right corner, sending Marco Carducci the other way.
High quality chances for Cavalry to equalize for a second time would go begging as a pair of substitutes in Anthony Novak and José Hernández failed to convert glorious opportunities in the closing quarter of an hour.
Just as it looked as though the visitors would come away with all three points, Mason found a few inches of space to operate inside the Edmonton area for one of the few times all afternoon and slotted home in the 89th minute to level things up at 2-2.
The Eddies will be disappointed not to have found their first ever win in this fixture given how close they were to the finish line but their efforts in their own half can’t be dismissed. For Cavalry, they created more than enough to come out on top but will be somewhat relieved to take a single point with them to the return leg on Wednesday back at Clarke Stadium.
7′ — Azriel Gonzalez (FC Edmonton)
30′ — Joe Di Chiara (Cavalry FC)
65′ — Fraser Aird (FC Edmonton) (PK)
89′ — Joe Mason (Cavalry FC)
14′ — Yellow: Joe Di Chiara (Cavalry FC)
87′ — Yellow: Adam Najem (FC Edmonton)