In a crucial battle in the race towards the Canadian Premier League playoffs and regular season title, Valour and Atlético Ottawa split the points in an entertaining 1-1 draw on Sunday, one that saw both teams trade goals in an entertaining end to the match.
Through that, they keep things tight at the top of the table, with the race for top four and the regular season remaining as tight as ever, setting up an exciting end to the campaign.
Daryl Fordyce had a good look from distance in the 12th minute, as the Valour midfielder saw a bit of daylight and decided to rip it, but while his shot stung the fingers of Nathan Ingham, the Ottawa goalkeeper would eventually collect the rebound, making the stop without too much thought.
A few minutes later, a decent wide ball off of a set-piece would find Valour’s Rocco Romeo in the box, and he’d make good contact on the ball, but would just send his attempt over the crossbar.
Continuing their strong start, Valour’s Walter Ponce had the best look of the game up until that point in the 19th minute, as he managed to sneak behind the Ottawa defence, but his strong left-footed shot struck the wrong side of the side netting.
Finally finding some life of their own, Ottawa nearly made the most of their first chance of the game in the 26th minute, as they really started to grow into the match. There, Ollie Bassett found the run of Carl Haworth with a fantastic ball, one that freed both Haworth and Brian Wright for a 2v1 with Jonathan Sirois, but after a nice cross from Haworth over to Wright, Valour’s Jonathan Sirois managed to just get in front of Wright’s shot, keeping things tied.
At the other end, Ponce continued a strong start for Valour in the 42nd minute, unleashing a powerful shot after Daryl Fordyce did well to win the ball back and feed him into space, but Ponce’s slashed shot sailed well wide of the goal.
Then, keeping up a good flurry for both teams, Ottawa’s Maxim Tissot managed to get the ball into a good area in the box for Zakaria Bahous, who put his boot through the ball, curling his attempt just over the mark.
Soon after that, however, the halftime whistle would blow, leaving both teams to regroup before they came out for the second stanza. That break would seem to help both teams, too, as they came out with some good life, eager to grab control of the game.
Despite that change in intensity, though, the second half would start similarly to the first – with a Valour chance, as Sean Rea did well to set up Ponce, but Ponce slashed his shot just wide.
That would nearly be costly, too, as a new-look Ottawa side almost made them pay in the 49th minute, as Ballou Tabla snuck in behind the Valour defence, and sent a seemingly goalbound shot over Sirois, one that was only denied by the crossbar. Then, a few minutes later, Tabla would have another good look after a good ball from Bahous, but this time his shot would sail well over, although it was clear that Ottawa had come to play in this half.
At the same time, so did Valour, as they looked to nab a win in front of their home fans. As a result, they kept pushing, nearly finding that goal in the 62nd minute through Rea, whose powerful shot sailed just wide of the post from distance.
From there, that’d allow them to snatch the lead just a few moments later in the 69th minute. After a great corner from Rea, he found a wide-open Andrew Jean-Baptiste at the back post, and the Valour defender made no mistake with his attempt, volleying home to give his team a crucial lead. Plus, as a bonus, with that assist, his eighth of the season, Rea also broke the league’s single-season record of seven, set last season by Tobias Warschewski.
With that lead now intact, they’d continue to push, too. Because of that, they also had a good look in the 74th minute through Alessandro Riggi, who’d line up a shot, but his attempt would be easily saved by Ingham.
Yet, Ottawa wouldn’t be dragged down by that. As a result, they then got back into the game, in style, through a moment of magic in the 78th minute. Having won a corner kick, up stepped Bassett to take, and deciding to add a bit of flair to the game, the man who is nicknamed ‘Olliewood’ brought the style with an Olimpico goal, curling the ball straight into the top corner with his attempt.
Keeping up the drama, Valour nearly stole the lead right back in the 84th minute, though, as Rea and Jean-Baptiste combined again on another corner, one that Jean-Baptiste made full contact with, but this time Ingham managed to get in front of the goalbound attempt from the centre back.
From there, however, other than a dramatic Keven Alemán volley that nearly found the goal in the 93rd minute, both teams were left to split the points on the day, continuing another dramatic weekend of CPL action.
68′ — Andrew Jean-Baptiste (Valour FC)
78′ — Ollie Bassett (Atlético Ottawa)
40′ — Yellow: Sergio Camus (Atlético Ottawa)
63′ — Yellow: Malcolm Shaw (Atlético Ottawa)
85′ — Yellow: Keven Alemán (Atlético Ottawa)