EDMONTON – When York9 arrived in Edmonton on Thursday ahead of Sunday’s game at Clarke Field, began a surreal few days for ‘keeper Nathan Ingham.
As someone who spent two seasons with the FC Edmonton in the NASL, training on Clarke Field with his York9 mates felt surreal.
“It’s been very nostalgic, you finish training and you look up the field and you see my York9 teammates and it’s weird because I’ve been on this field two or three hundred times and it was never with them,” said Ingham after Sunday’s 2-2 draw against the Eddies. “It feels a bit weird, I want to jump in my car and drive back to my apartment after training.”
It’s not often that a ‘keeper can be a player of the match in which he picks two balls out of the back of his net, but Ingham made several wonderful saves to keep things from getting out of hand. By keeping his team in the game, he set the stage for Ryan Telfer’s 85th-minute seeing-eye free-kick equalizer.
Even though Oumar Diouck and Easton Ongaro each scored their sixth goals of the season, the Eddies can rue the fact that they didn’t score five or six.
In the first half, Ingham charged out to rob Ongaro and leaped to make an acrobatic save-of-the-year effort on Ajay Khabra. After Randy Edwini-Bonsu came in as a 69th-minute substitute, he had a couple of glorious chances to beat Ingham, but the former FCE ‘keeper came up with diving stops. He made one with his face and another to make up for the fact that he’d given away the ball.
“It doesn’t feel great,” said Ingham of the ball off his face. “But it’ll happen. It happens more in practice than it does in games, but you’re good for 10 or 12 of those off the face or the unmentionables. I think I’d rather be hit in the face.”
Yes, there was controversy: York9 claimed that the opener, which saw Diouck score off a one-touch pass from Ajeej Sarkaria, was thanks to a missed offside call.
With the score tied 1-1, and right after Ingham made a fantastic point-blank save on Ongaro, it looked as if Sarkaria’s cheeky sidefooted attempt had resulted in his first-ever CPL goal. But the linesman’s flag went up, even though replays indicated that Sarkaria was indeed onside.
That capped off a wild opening phase to the game. Sandwiched in there was a goal from Wataru Murofushi, as he scrambled home a rebound off a penalty attempt from Kyle Porter that was saved by FCE ‘keeper Connor James.
FCE retook the lead in the second half as Ongaro side-footed home a second ball off a corner kick. Amer Didic, who was earlier whistled for committing the foul that led to York9’s penalty, flicked the ball towards the striker.
“I think I know he’s always going to win it,” said Ongaro. “As long as the delivery’s good, he’ll get on it, it’s just a matter of being in the right places where the ball’s going to land.”
There were moments through the game where both FCE coach Jeff Paulus and Y9 boss Jim Brennan were up and out of their technical areas to question the work of referee, Marie-Soleil Beaudoin, who was an official at the Women’s World Cup.
But, while Paulus said the officials didn’t have a good game, it couldn’t cover up the fact that his team should have converted their clear-cut chances.
“At the end of the day, I’ll say what I said at the end of the game,” said Paulus, highlighting a late chance that fell to Edwini-Bonsu.
“We’re up 2-1. We’re gifted a ball by Nathan Ingham, and you just have to score it. If it’s 3-1, we’re not talking about referees right now. We’re not talking about officials. I don’t look like I have sour grapes and am bitter because I’m upset about a couple of calls. We’re talking about a good win and a good victory … When you go up 2-1, and then you’re gifted a ball like this, it’s got to be 3-1 at that point.”
In the end, the big winner out of Sunday afternoon’s tilt between FC Edmonton and York9 was … Forge FC.
With a 1-1 draw at Clarke Field, both teams extended their winless streaks. FCE’s is bow at three games without a triumph, while the Nine Stripes stretched their streak without a victory to four. The Eddies are now three points behind Forge for the top spot in the Fall standings, while York9 is six points behind. But here’s the kicker, Forge has two games in hand on each.