The playoff picture in the Canadian Premier League is no clearer after a 1-1 draw at Starlight Stadium between Pacific FC and Atlético Ottawa.
Atlético Ottawa remains top of the table, while Pacific FC is still in fifth, although they are now tied on points with fourth place Valour FC. Valour has tie-breaker at the moment, with a +7 goal difference compared to Pacific’s 0.
There would be no tie-breaker in this match, however, as Ollie Bassett’s penalty was nullified by a free kick goal from Pacific’s Amer Didic in first-half stoppage time.
Pacific was given a free kick in a good position at the top of the box just five minutes into the match as Diego Espejo was judged to have fouled Jordan Brown. Didic was the somewhat surprising taker as he sent a rocket towards the net that Nathan Ingham redirected over the bar.
While Pacific started the match as the aggressor, Ottawa quickly found their footing and started to put together some good sequences of possession of their own as they used their press well to win back positions in good areas.
One such spell led to slaloming run from Max Tissot in the 25th minute, on which he was brought down just inside the box by Kunle Dada-Luke and was awarded a penalty. Bassett, who won the North Star Shield with Pacific last season, stepped up to the spot and converted for his team-leading seventh of the season and a 1-0 lead for Atleti.
The goal took a lot of the energy out of Starlight Stadium, and even though Pacific had most of the ball for the rest of the half they struggled to create many more chances or shots.
On the final kick of the half, however, Marco Bustos won a free kick just outside the Ottawa box. Didic again stepped up to take it and this time yet another brilliant strike took a redirection off the wall and nestled into the back of the net. The late goal equalized the match at 1-1 heading into halftime.
The sides traded chances within the first few minutes of the second half. First, it was Sean Young for Pacific who sent his shot from distance over the net. Ottawa quickly moved the ball up the other way with some great interplay, but Keven Alemán got the shape of his shot all wrong and sent it wide.
A cross from Dada-Luke midway through the half was the next truly dangerous chance, as it deflected off of the hands of Ingham and onto the crossbar. There was no further danger, however, as Ingham recovered well. Dada-Luke had another crack at the net moments later, but Ingham was once again equal.
Pacific kept on the pressure, however, and a long-range effort from Bustos forced Ingham to make yet another save. They had one more free-kick opportunity at the top of the box, but substitute Gianni Dos Santos did not really test Ingham.
The result won’t be fully satisfying for either side, as Pacific is now winless in their last four matches, while Ottawa has now drawn three straight times.
26′ — Ollie Bassett (Atlético Ottawa) (Penalty)
45+2′ — Amer Didic (Pacific FC)
30′ — Yellow: Ballou Tabla (Atlético Ottawa)
35′ — Yellow: Sean Young (Pacific FC)
69′ — Yellow: Kunle Dada-Luke (Pacific FC)
90+3′ — Yellow: Amer Didic (Pacific FC)
90+4′ — Yellow: Diego Espejo (Atlético Ottawa)