“Work it harder, make it better
Do it faster, makes us stronger”
No joke, this game was pretty much the same as last week’s game against Pro Stars….just indoors. And playing indoors was fortunate as I think the players would have died having to play in the heat outside on Saturday, I think the spectators would have been uncomfortable as well, it was hot, way too hot for this Brit.
Sigma lined up the same way as last week with Daniel Jodah up top, Kadell Thomas, Alex Halis and Velastegui behind him and Giuliano Frano and Mansoor Alfazy behind that. The standard backline of Henry, Grant, Samuel, Jelani Smith and Walton at the back. Sanjaxx lined up in the same formation.
Despite getting used to ‘the other football’ lines on the pitches this season, this game had four mini pitches outlined within the main dimensions which was slightly confusing from the sidelines. Sigma got off to a quick start, creating chances from the beginning, utilizing the pace on the wings from the kickoff. Johnny Grant was used heavily from the start, getting in behind the defence and putting the ball into dangerous positions. He got to the byline after just a couple of minutes and pulled a ball back to Thomas who couldn’t direct his shot on goal. But it wasn’t long until Thomas was involved again, this time with an assist. He received the ball out on the left from Walton, brought the ball onto his right foot and delivered it right into the centre of the box where Frano had ghosted unmarked. He beat the Sanjaxx goalkeeper Tayjon Campbell to the ball and headed into an open net to put Sigma up one nil.
Sanjaxx did look better on the ball than they had earlier in the season and were comfortable playing the ball out from the back; but they weren’t as comfortable as Sigma, who if anything were too comfortable at the start. A lot of simple passes went astray to begin with, but it didn’t take Sigma too long to get back in the rhythm. They were also using long diagonals to either Thomas on the left or Grant on the right, who were both having lots of joy against their markers, easily beating them for pace.
Sigma made it two nil in the 19th minute when Halis found Grant with a great chipped ball over the top of the defensive line, who put the ball across the 6 yard box and into the back of the net. The league credited this goal to Thomas, and I’m not in the business of taking goals off of anyone, but my first instinct was that the recovering defender knocked the ball in himself. Thomas didn’t seem to celebrate at all which compounded my suspicions. Judge for yourself, but either way the league gave it to Thomas.
Although I appreciated the work effort from the away team, the Sanjaxx left midfielder and left back were marking Grant far too tightly. I can see why they would want to man mark him, but he was getting in again and again by running onto through balls or balls over the top, using his superior size and strength to break the line at will. The defence should have switched their play up sometimes and stood off Grant a bit, making him get it to his feet and try to beat them on the ground where they could double up on him. Obviously, Sigma have other means of attack, but this was far too easy for them and Sanjaxx didn’t adapt. After the water break Sanjaxx switched the right midfielder over to the left, but there wasn’t too much difference in the way the game went.
Sigma made it 3 nil down this same side when Frano played a ball through into the channel to Grant who beat the keeper to the ball at the byline to the right of the goal. He held up the ball and was able to find Jodah whose hard shot evaded the retreating goalkeeper and player on the line.
Velastegui then put the game to bed in the 36th minute when he was slipped in by Halis to the right of the box. His initial shot was stopped by a good effort by Campbell in goal, but he wasn’t able to parry the ball away and the ball fell back to the Sigma midfielder who was able to find the net on his second attempt.
Sigma created a lot of chances over the course of the match and Sanjaxx goalkeeper Tayjon Campbell was called into action a lot during the 90 mins. Few of the shots on target were from distance and were generally all close range efforts that Sigma probably should have put away. Credit to the keeper who was always right on top of the shooter making himself big, and making it hard for the Sigma attackers to find a gap. He was able to pull off a number of saves from one-on-ones in the first half alone after Sigma penetrated the defence. A few that stick out include a high save to his left from Grant, low to his left from Halis and another he saved with an outstretched leg after he went down the other way. Then in the second half he managed to save a penalty from Velastegui after he won the spot kick himself.
Despite conceding more, I don’t believe Sanjaxx was worse than the Pro Stars the week before. I think Sanjaxx really went for it and despite being a number of goals down they were still throwing men forward to try and get a goal. Unfortunately for them, anything that they tried wouldn’t work.
They were pressing high up the pitch putting pressure on the Sigma defence, but Sanjaxx couldn’t push too high up the field due to the speed in attack. This left big holes in the middle of the park where Sigma dominated possession. For the last two weeks, I’ve heard observers mention that it looks like Sigma have extra players on the pitch, or they seem to be everywhere. I want to give some attention to Mansoor Alfazy, as he always finds pockets of space to receive the ball, or if he receives it under pressure; he always seems to do the right thing whether it’s playing it simple or being able to turn his man and make room for himself to drive forward and start an attack. This week he worked his socks off and covered every blade of….turf, along with Frano, giving Sanjaxx no room to maneuver and get a move going.
Sanjaxx started the second half reasonably well, creating a couple chances early on. One was a cross that two attacking players couldn’t connect with, and another was a giveaway in their own half that was shut down by a combination of Samuel and Jerome Smith, who were able to stop the forward in his tracks and get the block in.
Sigma scored their fifth goal when Dominic Samuel carried the ball up to the half way line and played a chipped ball over to the right flank where Grant ran onto it in acres of space, driving into the box unchallenged. All the defenders got attracted to the ball which left Thomas alone in the middle and was found by Grant for a simple tap in. I wouldn’t be surprised if 50% of Thomas’ goals happened in exactly this way, as this is almost a weekly occurrence.
Just a few minutes later, Thomas got either his second goal of the game or his hat trick (depending on if you’re giving him the first goal) when Sanjaxx lost the ball in their half after a good tackle from Alfazy. The ball fell kindly to Thomas about 30 yards out and Thomas drove at goal. A challenge came in at the edge of the area that was easily avoided when he smartly cut the ball onto his unfavoured right foot, and curled a lovely shot around the keeper.
Sigma made a few substitutions and changed up the formation a bit, playing a back 3 of Grant, Smith and Walton. Two midfielders were in front with Samaniego and Brar, then something like another 2 of Halis and Alfazy and 3 up top with Matic at the tip of the attack, so something like a 3-2-2-3 or a 3-2-4-1.
Either way it, was unconventional; so I don’t necessarily think that Bobby Smyrniotis was trying something different to go forward with, especially at the end of the season. I am most likely wrong, but my cynical mind thought that, as the game was already won, it may have been intended to invite a bit more pressure on the Sigma back line so that Johnny Grant could show his defensive capabilities to ‘potential onlookers’ *cough*CanPL scouts*cough*?
It could also have been to stop ‘running up the score’ as they say over here, as Grant was the most potent threat. Being as a couple other teams have really put big double digit scores in recently, I wouldn’t have minded Sigma joining the club, since the league could potentially come down to goal difference.
After the substitutions, Sanjaxx had two of their best chances in the game; the first was a looping shot tipped over the bar by Tristan Henry in typical spectacular fashion. From the resulting corner, the ball was dropped right into the 6-yard box where the Sanjaxx attacker was completely unmarked and headed the ball narrowly over the bar. On second viewing, he really should have hit the target, but the marking was dreadful and should have been spotted earlier and picked up as there were 9 Sigma players around the box and only 6 attackers. I kind of hope Sigma had switched off as the game was pretty much over, but on another day that would have been a goal and in a tighter game that could be vital.
Sigma were comfortable for the rest of the game, passing the ball around and looking for spaces to attack. They missed a penalty to make it seven, but did get that seventh in the final minute when Kadell Thomas definitely completed his hat trick. Brar’s through-ball found Matic on goal, Campbell made the initial save but again the Sigma player was first to the ball and Thomas was able to tap in from close range.
This was both Sigma’s biggest win of the season and Sanjaxx’s biggest loss, but the game didn’t really change the table. Sanjaxx would be hoping to catch Windsor ahead of them who are falling like a brick right now, but unfortunately come up against top of the table teams Oakville and TFC III in their final two games. Maybe they can do Sigma a favour next week, as Sigma remains six points behind Oakville with a game in hand against TFC III. Sigma have the Classic-eh against North Mississauga which should be a fun one with plenty of spectators and fan groups in the stands.