North Mississauga scored after a goal-mouth scramble late in the first half and held on for a 1-0 win over Aurora FC, improving to 3 wins in 9 matches after this Saturday night L1O match.
This match was played at Highland Park in Aurora – not their usual field, but definitely had a better atmosphere than their usual location at Max Kolbe. This is the site of the team’s clubhouse, and the pitchside patio had every table taken while the parking lot was surprisingly full as I drove in. The lack of a running track around the pitch definitely improved the experience, as the action was a lot closer than normal – tempered by the fact that the patio forced the bleachers off to the side and away from the middle part of the field. The night match didn’t help my camera either, which resorted to blurry pictures immediately after the sun set right after kickoff.
The match started with Mississauga applying the more consistent pressure of the two teams, though Aurora definitely had teeth with a number of quick breaks downfield that threatened to turn into scoring opportunities before being broken up by the Panthers defense. Neither team was really able to generate any dangerous chances on net for the first half hour, with the contest being more of a battle in the midfield with the back line of both sides quickly clearing anything which came down towards them. North Mississauga didn’t help their cause with an offensive line that I can only describe as sloppy; often having one or two players sitting in an offside position even when their own team had the ball and making no great effort to move back onside. They didn’t have many offside calls against them but this pattern probably stopped them from generating more chances on net.
The game was intermittently chippy right from the start, and stayed that way for most of the 90 minutes. Aurora’s Ali Sozeri received an elbow to the face at the nine minute mark which wasn’t argued too much at the time, though he seemed to go down with some dramatic exaggeration after being fouled a few minutes later. Between the embellishment and his quite vocal dissent towards the referee after the play, I was honestly surprised that he wasn’t booked at the time, though he would earn a caution towards the end of the half for a slide tackle which seemed more awkward than an outright infraction from where I was sitting. The only other caution of the half would go to Aurora’s Della Serra, who made it easy for the referee with a clearly-mistimed tackle as a Mississauga player moved quickly down the wing – the ensuing free kick from 20 yards out bounced around in front of the net but was saved by the Aurora keeper.
The good chances started around the 30-minute mark; Aurora’s Sozeri showed good ball control in making a few good dekes around Mississauga defenders on a fast run downfield but his 25-yard shot ended up well wide. Minutes later, a long goal kick by Mississauga’s keeper was tipped forward by Lee-Victor Massunda in midfield to send Bradley Fenton on a breakaway, only for him to collide with Aurora’s keeper Nicholas Luciani as they challenged for the loose ball. Luciani stayed down for a few minutes while calls for a penalty were ignored by the referee as the free kick went the other way. Mississauga would break the deadlock a few minutes later, after a wonderful long throw by Massunda couldn’t be cleared by the Aurora defense as it bounced around in front of the net, only for it to be finally sent home by Andi Motina to give the visiting side the lead just before the half.
Momentum shifted towards Aurora to start off the second half; the controlled play a lot more than previously and were generating almost all of the chances (especially for the first twenty minutes or so). Aurora’s Frederick Ameyaw forced Panthers keeper Carranza-Custodio into a diving save off a free kick just a few minutes into play, while Calvin Witzell had a great chance a couple of minutes later as he danced around some defenders to unleash a 25-yard shot which deflected and forced the keeper into yet another diving save.
Aurora’s best chance of the match came in the 60th minute off a free kick from the right side of the pitch; the ball seemed to make its way through everyone else towards the foot of Jordan Kalk only a few feet in front of the net, but his desperate sprawl was short by only inches as the ball found its way into the keepers’ arms. I’m convinced that even the slightest touch would’ve leveled the game at one goal a piece. Kalk was certainly the most notable player on Aurora for me, doing wonders as a playmaker and showing great speed on the offensive line (his opposite number on Mississauga, Bradley Fenton, also impressed me the same way).
Aurora had another great opportunity with only five minutes left on the clock, as one of their strikers blocked a clearance attempt by the Mississauga defense at midfield that would’ve sent Aurora on an odd-man rush downfield – only for Mississauga to cry for a handball which was granted by the referee, despite him being square behind the striker. I was lucky enough to have the striker facing directly towards me, and I can say without a doubt that it hit him square on the chest – unfortunate, because Aurora probably deserved a goal and a draw with the chances that they were creating during the second half. Mississauga would hold on for the 1-0 victory.
With the win, the Panthers earn their third win of the season and remain in 6th place in the Western Conference; one point behind Windsor, who faces Vaughan Azzurri later today. Aurora remains in 7th place in the Eastern Conference, with 4 points after 9 matches. North Mississauga is in for a tough game next week as they face the North Toronto Nitros (there should be a great crowd as the Toronto CPL Supporters Group is going to be at the game), while Aurora will be looking to claim some points as they line up against the winless ProStars FC on Friday.
#22 – Roberto Carranza-Custodio (GK)
#3 – Anthony Wright
#4 – Mathew Monteiro
#5 – Tom Wrobel – YC (64′)
#6 – Sundin Esperance
#9 – Lee-Victor Massunda
#10 – Laith Adi
#14 – Daniel Whyte
#17 – Bradley Fenton – Off (76′)
#19 – Andi Motina – Goal (34′) – Off (86′)
#21 – Gareth Davies
#18 – Nathaniel Marksman – On (76′)
#11 – Jordan Prescod – On (86′)
NORTH MISSISSAUGA 1:0 AURORA
34′ GOAL – NMS #19 Andi Motina
31′ YC – AUR #4 Gianmariano Della Serra
42′ YC – AUR #15 Ali Sozeri
64′ YC – NMS #5 Tom Wrobel
#1 – Nicholas Luciani (GK)
#2 – Calvin Witzell
#19 – Matthew Brown
#4 – Gianmariano Della Serra – YC (31′)
#5 – Michael Nitchov
#6 – Frederick Ameyaw
#17 – Jordan Kalk – Off (76′)
#9 – Jared Agyemang – Off (83′)
#10 – Joey Tituana
#11 – Dylan Rennie
#15 – Ali Sozeri – YC (42′) – Off (63′)
#8 – Matthew Caguana – On (63′)
#7 – Basel Rashrash – On (76′)
#14 – Kairev Juta – On (83′)