Gale calls for Valour to ‘turn the tide’ following 5th-straight loss

HALIFAX – Moments after a fifth loss in a row, Valour FC head coach Rob Gale had a simple message to his players: Turn the tide.

“It’s about having the character and the heart to step up,” Gale said. “It has to be collective, too, to turn the tide and turn good, positive football, good territory, and good chances into wins.”

It’s an aptly nautical metaphor following his side’s 2-0 loss in Halifax – their third defeat in a month to HFX, who was also Valour’s Canadian Championship Qualifying Round 2 opponent. However, this 2-0 loss was yet another scoreline that Gale suggests doesn’t reflect his team’s performance.

“Look at the tactics and tell me when we were not the better team? Tell me who’s outplayed us?” Gale asked, citing a dominant first 15 minutes of play at Wanderers Grounds

“They have to keep that belief … They have to show their character to overcome a mistake or decision or anything that goes against them. You can’t feel that injustice.

“When you’re on top of teams as we were, and completely in control, you have to finish.”

Valour nearly took the lead in the fifth minute when a clear-cut Jordan Murrell volley was saved by HFX goalkeeper Christian Oxner in an impressive one-handed effort. Oxner had another impressive stop on Calum Ferguson at the end of the half – two saves that bookended a penalty decision that gifted the Wanderers a lead.

“I don’t know how he saved that first one. How many of those do you have in your lifetime?” Gale said after the match.

“A goalkeeper can come up and make a big save but you have to bury the next one or find a way to turn the tide and have the belief, as a player that “I’m, going to be the one to take this next chance’ and In the back of your mind, not thinking ‘oh, if we don’t score we might be punished on the other end.'”

Valour FC defender Jordan Murrell reacts to Christian Oxner's first-half save. (Trevor MacMillan/CPL).
Valour FC defender Jordan Murrell reacts to Christian Oxner’s first-half save. (Trevor MacMillan/CPL).

“We can hide behind ages,” Gale said, referencing a Valour that intentionally featured several young players, meant to fill the under-21s quota each CPL club needs to fill in the 2019 season. “But, collectively, we’ve drawn a line. It’s not good enough to lose that many games.”

Gale’s call for commitment and self-belief goes past taking a man on or thumping the ball towards goal.

HFX’s pair of markers came from clear Valour missteps defensively; a desperate slide tackle in the box and an uneasy turnover in the middle of the park.

“We dominate possession, we pass really well,” Valour midfielder Marco Bustos said. “But it’s just a lack of concentration sometimes … We make one mistake and that leads to a goal.

“But it’s not just one thing … We need to be better, We know that, the coaches know that, the fans know that.”

Valour will close out their Spring season on Canada Day at home against York9 (6:00 p.m. ET, 5:00 p.m. CT, on OneSoccer).