Sigma’s great start to the season continued this weekend with a convincing 6-1 win over the Sanjaxx Lions at Monarch Park Stadium. It was odd being there when it wasn’t dark and sporting a big white bubble for soccer during the winter, which certainly would have come in handy today as the rain was constant throughout, which made it tricky conditions for the players.
Sigma made a couple changes from the previous victory, giving Noah Mehta his first start of the season replacing Alfazy in the attacking midfield role behind the striker Mrabure who is back in up top for Matic. Kyle Whalton was back in the centre of defense, pushing Ghaffur into his usual defensive midfield position.
Sigma pretty much picked up where they left off last week, easily keeping possession against a team that was happy to sit back and defend and hope to hit Sigma on the counter attack. Sigma have dealt well with these tactics so far, looking very comfortable just keeping the ball, playing it safe. A great example of this would be Faisal Ghaffur who again looked extremely composed on the ball and showed great positional awareness when one of the defenders stepped up. A lot of the possession came down the left in the firsts half with Lee and Thomas getting plenty of the ball, which left Grant wide open on the right hand side for Frano or Ghaffur to switch the ball when there was too much traffic to progress on the left.
Sigma were struggling to find the final ball or final touch to put one of their half chances away and could have had a couple goals before they scored their first with multiple balls being flashed across the front of the goal to no avail. Eventually though the pressure paid off with a long throw into the box, flicked on at the near post, and eventually came to Thomas gambling at the back post, got in front of the defender to poke home.
The second was the best goal you won’t see this week, and came from almost nothing. Frano played the ball out to the left to Thomas who came in field, knocked it past his marker and unleashed a great right footed shot into the top corner from about 25 yards out. It showed through out that the Sigma players looked faster, stronger and hungrier for the win without ever really needing to get out of 3rd gear. Each attempted attack that Sanjaxx tried in the first half just fizzled out pretty quickly and Sigma were well in the driving seat.
Sigma continued to dominate in the second half, Grant was getting more of the ball on the right and going past his marker to get crosses into the box, and that is where the third goal came from. Grant played a 1-2 with Mehta – who was always able to find space between the lines – and got to the byline and crossed to the near post, the clearance went straight to Stoddart alone at the top of the box who faked a shot on his right, committing the defender, took it onto his left and slammed the ball in from around 12 yards giving the Sanjaxx goalie no chance. Stoddart and Thomas now both have 3 goals in the last 2 games each.
After that Sigma seemed to get a bit complacent for 10 minutes or so, with Sanjaxx finally able to put a bit of pressure on high up the pitch, they gave the ball away easily creating a few shooting opportunities for the Lions. They were rewarded for this pressure with what would end up being a consolation game from Nathanial Rodney-Scarlett. I felt sorry for Tristan Henry, when his defence was, for the first time, caught sleeping allowing 3 Sanjaxx players free to try to score from close range, and managed to fantastically stop the first two attempts before being unable to reach the third and final shot.
I thought Sigma were going to get their third 4-1 win in a row when Manvir Brar scored in the 77th minute. Substitute Marquis Pitt, making his first start of the season, took on the left back and drilled a low cross into the 6 yard box. The Sanjaxx keeper parried it out only as far as Brar who was all alone to pass it first time into the net.
So I was slightly disappointed when Frano made it 5 shortly after, making up for his early missed header, which looked easier to score than miss. This goal came from an indirect free kick from inside the penalty area after a high footed challenge from the defender on substitute Marcel Zajac. The players and I were both confused with the decision to award a free kick rather than a penalty. So I looked up the official rule and I believe it falls under, ’playing in a dangerous manner’. From my view and watching it again, there looked to be contact by the defender on the attacker and therefore should have been a penalty. However, if there wasn’t which I assume the referee adjudged it to be then indirect was the correct call* (obviously I could be wrong here, I am not a ref). But I don’t want to moan about the ref as I thought she had a good game in general, the game was pretty much won at this point anyway and Sigma scored from it nonetheless.
The 6th goal again came from Pitt down the right in the 89th minute who looped a ball over to Matic at the far post who controlled the ball and easily slid it past the keeper for his 2nd of the season.
Overall this was easy game for Sigma, Sanjaxx never really threatened other than a 5-10 minute period in the second half and seemed happy for Sigma to control possession unopposed until they got near the Sanjaxx final third. The next couple of games should be a lot tougher, with TFC III in the cup midweek then 3rd placed Windsor TFC at the weekend. I just need to decide whether renting a car and a 7 hour round trip to Windsor would be a good idea or not. Maybe I’ll check the weather forecast so I don’t make it 3 in 3 rainy road trips for me this season.
“If the guys played like the girls they’d be tired”
So I thought I’d add a shout out to the two girls filming the game for the league who are my L1O equivalents of Mad Bull and Maestro, as they provided a great commentary throughout the match video online. With topics ranging from cottage trips, hair, coaching badges, players’ hair, Debrecen, and false eye lashes. They brought up having to pay $3.5k for a training camp, which is just ludicrous, and a problem around North America in general with regards to ‘pay to play’ for a training camp where they admit they may not get anything from, but this would be a separate article completely. They also made one comment that I did find interesting when talking about how slow the games was in comparison the Womens L1O games they play in that are more end to end. “If the guys played like the girls, they’d be tired”. So I have not watched any women’s L1O matches so I don’t know how true this is, but I found it interesting that between the 2 leagues – that I’ve heard Duane Rollins say the women’s is probably above the men’s in quality – why the tactics/styles are so different? There may be a very simple answer to this, it might be the same worldwide I don’t know. Maybe I’ll look into that a bit more one day.
Either way I’m definitely watching more Sanjaxx games online so I can get my weekly fill of League 1 E! News and gossip