MATCH ANALYSIS: York United complete comeback against Valour to secure victory in the CPL’s 500th match

Final Score: York United 3-1 Valour FC
Goalscorers: Abatneh 68′, Wright 74′, Babouli 90+1′; Campbell 15′
Game of the 2024 season: 16
CPL match: 500

Match in a minute or less

York United defeated Valour FC in the Canadian Premier League’s 500th match on Friday, coming from behind to beat the Winnipeg club 3-1.

Dante Campbell opened the scoring for Valour, who will feel hard done by the final scoreline. A second-half flurry of goals from York United, however, turned the match on its head as Noah Abatneh equalized in the 68th minute, Brian Wright gave the Nine Stripes the lead six minutes later, before Mo Babouli completed the scoring emphatically in second-half stoppage time.

It was the second time in three matches at home this season that York United have scored three goals at home, something that they did not manage to do all of last year.

Three Observations

York United come from behind to win the Canadian Premier League’s 500th match

Last season, York United won just four times at home. The only club in the league to have done so fewer times was their opponent on Friday in the league’s 500th match — Valour FC.

So far through three home matches it has been much improved, as York have now claimed a pair of victories, and scored six goals in three matches at York Lions Stadium. It took them six home matches to do that last season.

“I think going into this year, we looked at our home record last year and it was a goal for us to make this place a hard place to play,” said York defender Max Ferrari. “Two wins, three goals per win, and we’re on track, we just have to keep going.”

There’s still plenty of work to be done on this York side, particularly in starting matches as they once again fell behind and were forced to battle back on Friday. The fact that they did, however, showed good fighting spirit from this group again.

“We’ve still got a long ways to go and a lot to work on to be the team we want to be but hopefully we can go on from here,” said York United head coach Martin Nash.

For Valour, meanwhile, it was another frustrating evening, as for the first hour they looked to be fairly in control, defending well in a new-look 4-2-3-1 formation and creating a solid amount of attacking opportunities of their own. But they will again be left searching for answers after a number of individual mistakes compounded to keep them without a point to start the season — most clearly on the Nine Stripes’ winning goal. An under-hit backpass from Haris Chantzopoulos was latched onto by Brian Wright, who beat Darlington Murasiranwa to the ball for a fairly easy match-winner.

Playing on the road it has seemed especially difficult for Valour late in matches to hold onto results. Ten of the 13 goals that Valour have conceded so far this season have come in the second half of matches.

“The game is 90 minutes, our levels of concentration need to be there for 90 minutes,” said Valour FC manager Phil Dos Santos. “If players only have the ability to keep those levels of focus and of concentration for 45 minutes, then they will become 45-minute players and they’ll have to come on in the game. So it’s as simple as that.”


Persistent offensive approach finally pays off for York United

For over an hour on Friday night, it looked as though it was going to be another frustrating performance from York United in attack.

They consistently got the ball into good areas on the pitch, but were unable to test Darlington Murasiranwa in the Valour net as their composure and quality were lacking in the final moments.

Eventually, perhaps on a slight stroke of luck, they opened the scoring on a great Mo Babouli corner kick delivery that Abatneh knew little about as it went off of him and into the back of the net for his first CPL goal.

“If we could get the one I felt we could get a few more,” said Nash. “I told the guys that and get the first and once you get that you can score two or three. It was just through sheer will and hard work that we were able to come back.”

In the end, the club finished with 3.52 expected goals, eight corners, 22 crosses and 35 touches in the Valour box (which are shown in the box below). Eventually, that persistence in getting the ball into dangerous areas on the pitch paid off as Wright and then Babouli added goals to give York their second three-goal home performance of the season.

York United’s touchmap in the Valour box (Courtesy: Opta)

Of importance, the club was finally able to get Mo Babouli into better offensive positions during the match, and it paid off in a big way. With just three touches inside the box coming into this match, Babouli had four on Friday alone, with a pair of shots inside the box.

Of even more importance, Babouli finally got on the scoresheet for the first time this season, first setting up Abatneh’s goal from a 68th-minute corner, before opening his own account in second-half stoppage time with an emphatic strike. The club’s incredible record when Babouli scores improved to 7-3-1 all-time.

“It was good for us to get Mo going,” said Nash. “Now he’s off the mark and he can keep going.”


Another strong homecoming for Dante Campbell

For Etobicoke native Dante Campbell, there has been no place like home when it comes to playing Canadian Premier League matches at York Lions Stadium.

After scoring his first Canadian Premier League goal at the stadium in September of last year during a 3-1 victory for Valour, he added his second for the Winnipeg club on Friday night.

His header from close range off a Jordan Faria corner-kick opened the scoring. He also made a brilliant defensive player in the 33rd minute as he saved a goal when he cleared a deflected cross from Austin Ricci off the goal line.

Tenacious as always at the back, Campbell made a number of key defensive interventions as he often found himself watching key York attacker Mo Babouli down the left.

He finished with two interceptions, four clearances and having completed 87.2 per cent of his passes it was another quality performance from the midfielder. It came in another losing effort, but it was another tenacious performance from the Valour captain, who has again been a bright spot for York this season. Player of the Match

Mo Babouli, York United  

It was a complete performance from the York captain, as he got on the scoresheet with a goal and an assist. He also won 11 of 19 contested duels and was fouled five times as he consistently got into good positions on the pitch.

What’s next?

Valour FC are off to the East Coast to take on the Halifax Wanderers on Monday, May 20 (2:00 p.m. CT / 3:00 p.m. ET). York United, meanwhile, head west to take on Cavalry FC at ATCO Field on Saturday, May 18 (7:00 p.m. ET).

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