Viti Martinez’s 90th-minute goal gave Atlético Ottawa arguably their biggest win in club history on Wednesday night, as the expansion club earned a 1-0 victory over Pacific FC and moved up the Island Games standings in the process.
The result sets up a mouth-watering final weekend of first-round action, with Pacific and Ottawa joining five other clubs eligible to claim the four second-round berths on offer.
Atlético Ottawa (fifth in the table) would have been officially eliminated with a loss, while Pacific (sixth in the standings) could have gone joint-top in the CPL standings with a victory.
An early driving headed attempt from Lukas MacNaughton sailed just over the crossbar, putting Ottawa’s tail up and setting the tone for a first half that Pacific dominated. Jamar Dixon’s run into the six-yard box – and subsequent shot over the crossbar – was the best chance of eight attempted shots in the opening 45 minutes.
Ottawa, forced to counter out of a hybrid 4-4-2 formation, relied on a lively Malcolm Shaw to track down long balls. Shaw forced a decent rush-out stop from PFC ‘keeper Callum Irving before the first half was over.
Play turned more cagey in the second half, with set-pieces playing a big factor, including a pair of top-of-the-box free kicks from Pacific’s Victor Blasco.
The Tridents kept the bulk of possession and run of play, eventually ending with 61 per cent possession. But quality chances were few and far between. Ottawa, meanwhile, managed well on the counter, creating some chances. A sprawling desperation save from Ottawa goalkeeper Nacho Zabal on Pacific’s Noah Verhoeven capped a nervy final moment and marked a shift in momentum.
At the other end, Ottawa’s Mo Kourouma nearly opened the scoring but was denied by a point-bank stop and ensuing goal-line scramble from Irving.
The winner would come from the ensuing corner kick, though, when a pinball sequence in the box ended with Martinez emphatically thumping home the game’s lone goal and sending Ottawa’s bench into a frenzy.
Both sides will look to clinch a top-four spot on Sunday. Atlético Ottawa takes on HFX Wanderers FC (12pm ET/1pm AT, OneSoccer), while Pacific FC faces FC Edmonton (3pm ET/4pm AT, OneSoccer/CHCH).
47’ Yellow – Ben McKendry (Atlético Ottawa)
49’ Yellow – Milovan Kapor (Atlético Ottawa)
55’ Yellow – Francisco Acuña (Atlético Ottawa)
63’ Yellow – Victor Martinez (Atlético Ottawa)
85’ Yellow – Victor Blasco (Pacific FC)
90’+2′ Yellow – Marco Bustos (Pacific FC)
Marco Bustos (Pacific FC)
When Pacific couldn’t create in the final third, Marco Bustos was there. Playing on the right, the diminutive attacker was good value for a goal with several darting runs and cut-ins. He made Ottawa’s otherwise sturdy defence look off-kilter with a game-high five shots and two key passes.