Still struggling to score, York9, HFX stay positive, though ‘not satisfied’

YORK REGION – For a second straight match at York Lions Stadium, both teams leave disappointed after 90 minutes.

This time around, York9 FC and HFX Wanderers FC drew 0-0 on Saturday afternoon after an intense back-and-forth tilt under the bright sun. Sure, both sides had their chances to win, but neither could find the breakthrough goal, and must settle for just one of the three points on offer.

“No, I’m not satisfied with a point – same as the other day,” said York9 coach Jimmy Brennan post-match, referring to his team’s similarly scoreless draw against FC Edmonton on Wednesday.

“I feel for the guys, they’ve come in disappointed, like it’s a loss. Our work ethic is there; three clean-sheets in a row now, ample opportunity to get goals. It’s just not going in the back of the net for us.”

Brennan added: “Look, if we weren’t creating those chances we’d be in a lot of trouble, but I know that the way we’re playing, the way we move the ball, the crosses that are the coming in, the shots, eventually it’s going to go in the back of the net. Once that clicks, we’ll be alright.”

The Nine Stripes’ best looks came when Ryan Telfer nearly found defender Luca Gasparotto in the area, only for his opposite, Peter Schaale to nip it away at the last second with a toe, and when Rodrigo Gattas drew a fine save out of HFX keeper Jan-Michael Williams in the second half with a strong header from a Morey Doner cross.

“We’re inches away from getting on the end of it,” Brennan noted. “Manu (Aparicio) had a great opportunity where the ball drops at his feet and bounces away. Morey puts a great ball into the box and Gattas is flying in, trying to get on the end of it, and he’s just missed it.

“We had a number of those opportunities today. It’s only a matter of time and it will come.”

York9's Rodrigo Gattas and HFX's Zela Langwa battle for the ball at York Lions Stadium. (Photo:
York9’s Rodrigo Gattas and HFX’s Zela Langwa battle for the ball at York Lions Stadium. (Photo:

Doner, who was particularly threatening up and down the right-flank, echoed his coach: “It’s a combination of being unlucky and things not going our way at this point.

“But we’re playing better every game. This is what we want.”

Both sides took a measure of solace in keeping clean-sheets: York have not conceded in league play since May 29, a span of 345 minutes.

“It’s pivotal. You always want to keep it clean at the back before anything,” said centre-back Daniel Gogarty. “It’s good if you’re scoring goals, but if you’re conceding two, three at the back, it doesn’t really mean anything.”

For HFX, it was their first clean-sheet of the Canadian Premier League season, which goalkeeper Williams said was the result of his team “constantly improving defensively,” and the draw was also their first away point – but the Wanderers remain without a goal on their travels through four CPL matches, having failed to score away from home in each attempt.

“All credit to the back-line and the goalkeeper,” praised HFX head coach Stephen Hart, less pleased with the production at the other end of the pitch. “I just felt we were really nervous in possession, made some hurried decisions.

“And even when we got into the attack, we were hesitant – it wasn’t as flowing as I would like.”

Tomasz Skublak, leading the line alone, had a handful of good looks throughout, but could not beat York goalkeeper Nathan Ingham.

“It’s easier to say it after the fact,” Skublak said of what he could have done to find that elusive goal, referring specifically to the chance that came should after the hour mark when he was threaded in on goal alone, only for Ingham to rush out with a sliding block. “It’s one I should have taken a little earlier instead of trying to chip it.”

Still, HFX are wracked by injuries in the attacking part of the pitch – the team remains without Luis Alberto Perea, Juan Diego Gutierrez, and Mohamed Kourouma – so, to that end, Hart understands the weight of those absences, and sees his team putting in the required work.

“I can get them close to goal, but I can’t score, I can’t make the final pass,” Hart said. “I think, at times, our game has been about wide penetration. We have been unfortunate that Skooby was injured for a long period, Perea is still injured, and Kourouma is out.

“Sometimes you can understand the players thinking, ‘Well, how are the goals going to come when we’re dependent on one or two players to get the goals for us?’ You just have to keep plugging away.”