Sigma FC: Quadrilogy

“Better late than never but never late is better
They tell me time is money, well we’ll spend it together”

It seems like forever since I last wrote about Sigma, but even volunteer bloggers need vacations and then Sigma didn’t play for a couple weeks but I’m back now to catch up on what’s been a tough month of so for the Mississauga outfit. Players have come and gone, sending’s off, postponements, and a long journey west. It has been a hard run of games with only 1 win from the last 4 games which has seen Sigma drop into second place in the west.

Please click on each tab below to find coverage of each match.

“Bad boys, bad boys
What’cha gonna do?
What’cha gonna do when they come for you?”

The first game was a disappointing draw at home to Durham, which saw Sigma take the lead twice through top scorer Kadell Thomas but couldn’t hold on with Durham’s LeRohne Young equalizing twice. Sigma were missing right back Johnny Grant, new signing Mo Babouli and Justin Stoddart who has left for University. They also eventually went down to 9 men and were playing at least a man down for the last 30 mins of the game.

The first goal came early on from some good work on the right by Tajon Buchanan who took on his defender at the edge of the area and slid the ball across the six-yard box for Thomas to easily tap in.

Durham’s equalizer came in the 37th minute when a long ball over the top was completely missed by the Sigma defence and allowed Tyrell Rayne in on goal and blasted a left footed strike past the helpless Tristan Henry in goal.

Sigma retook the lead after 45 mins and it again came from the right. Buchanan laid the ball off to Dominic Samuel whose cross should have been easily dealt with by goalkeeper Peter Katarsaris who allowed the ball to slip through his hands and it fell directly to Thomas who again just had to put it in from a few yards out.

Another mistake led to Durham’s second equalizer when Ghaffur was caught on the ball about 25 yards out form his own goal, the ball was quickly slipped through again to Rayne who coolly placed the ball past Henry.

If the errors weren’t bad enough, this is where the game went a little crazy. In the 61st minute after a little grabbing by the Durham centre back Thomas inexplicably kicked out at him in full view of the referee who immediately gave a red card to Thomas and they’d have to play the remaining 30 mins with 10 men.

15 mins later, substitute Manvir Brar saw yellow for a little trip on the Durham attacker as he cut back inside. Looked like a very soft yellow to me. As did the second, in the 84th minute the Durham attacker was running on goal with just one defender to beat. Brar was chasing alongside him. You can see him almost consider making a cynical foul but then deciding against it. The attacker seemed to attempt to quickly change direction and slipped over – I’ve watched it a few times and can’t see much contact that would make him fall the way he does, I don’t think he actually pulls him back on the shoulder, I think the attacker lost balance trying to change direction. But the ref saw things differently and Brar got his marching orders. Tristan Henry got his 3rd yellow card of the season to add to his red which must be the most in the league for a goalkeeper, lol, I love a character, especially when they are actually good as well.

Sigma still probably had the better chances to win the game in the second half, barring a late header that Durham probably should have scored, but held on to get the point.

“I tried, you tried, we tried
All of the times that we had together
We should’ve known nothing last forever”

This was always going to be a tough one with the top 2 teams in the league coming up against each other. Sigma won the first game of the season against Oakville playing a dynamic counter attacking game, but it was a very different starting lineup this time round with only 5 of the same starters. Sigma saw Halis, Grant and Babouli return to the starting lineup. Kadell Thomas also played despite being sent off for kicking an opponent last week*. Also making his first appearance is new signing David Velastegui coming from Delfines del Este FC in the Dominican Republic.

(* I spoke to the League about this and the suspension was appealed therefore allowing him to play this week, and the suspension was reduced to 1 game so only misses the Woodbridge game. Hopefully L1 can make this process more transparent in future)

With the new attacking players came a different style to that first game. Sigma now playing a more expansive possession based style than they did in the first few weeks of the season. This game was nonstop from start to finish, it was fast paced end to end stuff with both teams having good chances throughout.

Sigma continued the trend from the last game against Durham and continued to shoot themselves in the foot. This time Kyle Walton played a poor back pass to Henry that was intercepted by Mathew Santos who took it to the side of the keeper with his first touch and somehow hit the post with his second touch when it looked harder to miss with a wide open goal in front of him.

Both teams hit the woodwork on a couple of occasions and both needed their keepers to be on top form. Then both teams had a player sent off each. The game was getting a little bit physical with some hard challenges coming in being let go by the ref, but with one hard challenge on Mo Babouli in the 60th minute caused a 22 man scuffle that saw Kyle Walton and Oakville’s Al James both see red.

Once play resumed, the match continued as it had been with constant action. Soon after, Babouli hit the woodwork after getting the ball at the top of the box, moved it onto his left foot and unleashed a fierce strike towards goal that cannoned up off the bar.

Santos made amends for his earlier howler by scoring the winning goal in the 79th minute. Again, Sigma were caught out by a long ball – this has happened far too many times this season, because of Sigma’s high line there is a lot of space behind the defence for teams to drop balls into, but these also need to be dealt with better by the Sigma defence. Henry has been left high and dry a few too many times and it’s costing the team points.

Regardless of that, Santos wrestled with Jelani Smith and managed to run onto the ball, leaving Smith on the floor – there was certainly more contact and pulling from both players than was involved in Brar’s sending off the game previous….. just saying. #consistency – It definitely looked like a foul to me but Santos didn’t care struck a strong low left footed shot past Henry and picked up a yellow card for his celebration removing his shirt. Sigma protested the referee’s decision to allow play to continue for the foul against Jelani Smith which saw Henry get his 4th yellow of the season and DID earn himself a suspension for card accumulation.

Sigma put on the pressure in the final 10 mins and came close from a couple free kicks but were unable to find the vital goal and lost their undefeated record and now joint top of the western conference.

“And I can still kick balls like Drogba
Young and I make big wins like Götze”

In the final game against an eastern conference opponent and looking to bounce back after their first defeat of the season Sigma came up against 1st place and L1 Cup winners Woodbridge Strikers. Boasting former TFC goalkeeper Quillan Roberts in goal, the meanest defence in League 1 this season, as well as all stars Dylan Carreiro and Christian Cavallini this should have been a tough game. In fairness to Woodbridge, they did have a game on the Wednesday before against rivals Vaughan Azzuri which could have led to more tired legs on the pitch for the Strikers.

But Sigma took advantage of having a longer rest period than their opponents, Ryan Stillo started in goal for the suspended Tristan Henry and David Velastegui got his second start of the season but only lasted for 26 minutes due to a serious head injury for which the game was stopped for a number of minutes as an ambulance was called.

The first half was a lot less frantic than the last game against Oakville with both teams taking a measured approach to their attacks, but this led to few good chances for both teams. One fell to Mo Babouli who was played through on goal but his low shot was saved by the outstretched legs of Roberts.

The deadlock was broken in the 40th minute when Mo Babouli played a give and go with Alex Halis who slipped the ball back to the forward who flicked the ball past his ex-teammate with the outside of his right foot.

Babouli showed his quality again just after half time when in the 49th minute, Daniel Jodah took the ball down the left-hand side beating his man and pulled the ball back on the byline to Babouli who took one touch to control and the next to volley past Quilllan Roberts.

Sigma continued to create good chances, exposing the gaps left by Woodbridge trying to score and get back in the game but they couldn’t take advantage and it was Woodbridge who struck next. Halving the deficit was Christian Cavalini who lost his marker and got on the end of Dylan Carreiro’s pinpoint freekick to head it in.

It only took Sigma 5 mins to regain their 2 goal lead when Christian Samaniego’s deep corner found Johnny Grant marked at the back post, who controlled the ball on his thigh and volleyed the ball back across goal in to the far corner from a tight angle.

Sigma should have made it 4 minutes later when Babouli’s excellent run and cross found debutant, 17yo Hilli Goldhar alone in the middle of the goal, but Roberts made himself big and the shot ricocheted of his legs straight to Jodah at the edge of the area. His shot did beat Roberts but not the defender on the line who headed the ball off the line and out for a corner.

Cavalini nearly scored again soon after to make it 3-2 but could only hit the outside of the post and Sigma made him pay moments later when Halis had the ball on the left and played a delicate pass inside to the onrushing Jodah. He carried the ball forward into the box and cut back onto his right foot, evading the defender who had dived in expecting the cross, and looped the ball into the far corner.

Babouli completed the rout and his hattrick from the penalty spot in the 77th minute. Goldhar was dragged down after getting around the Woodbridge defender, Babouli stepped up and sent Roberts the wrong way, blasting the ball into the top left corner.

And that’s the way the game ended. This was a brilliant result for Sigma who have struggled the last couple of weeks against inferior opposition and got their second biggest win of the season against a team that have the best defensive record in the league.

“Sky looks grey in London city
We stay graftin’, ‘cos we’re gritty”

This week Sigma took the long road trip out west to play FC London who they only managed a 0-0 draw against in the home fixture after going down to 10 men. The League 1 twitter says they lined up in in a 3-4-3 but im pretty sure it was a 4-3-3 with Captain Guiliano Frano sitting deep playing a more advanced ‘Ghaffur’ role. Samaniego and Velastegui, coming back from his head injury, making up the rest of the midfield trio. Daniel Jodah played in a more advanced role in the forward three consisting of Thomas and Babouli.

London again managed to hold Sigma to a draw and actually had a one goal lead until the 75th minute before Sigma we able to equalize through Velastegui. This draw sets Sigma back in the championship race with Oakville taking 1st place in the west and Sigma 8 points behind them with 1 game in hand – which is a tough one against TFC II.

Sigma took the lead early on with a great solo effort from Kadell Thomas after 8 minutes. Mo Babouli picked up the ball from a clearance in his own half and put a perfectly weighted ball inside the London right back into space for Thomas to use his blistering pace to run on to. He picked the ball up around 30 yards out and drove into the box, moved the ball onto his favoured left side inside the retreating defender and smashed the ball in by the near post. I think the goalkeeper Connor Dalton thought he would be going the other way and was cheating a bit leaving more space on that side of the goal.

Sigma were playing well, not giving up many good chances and getting the ball forward quickly with diagonal passes out wide, using the pace of the front three to get in behind their defence in the channels. This caused London problems each time having to chase back with the wingbacks not getting back enough to help out their defence. Mo Babouli had a good chance to double the lead minutes later from one of these attacks. Samaniego’s ball forward found Jodah past the defensive line. His pace then found Babouli but he only managed to drag his shot wide of the far left post.

Frano missed a great chance to double Sigma’s lead in the 36th minute from the penalty spot. Despite scoring a couple himself this season and Babouli the same, this one was easily saved by Dalton with a poor shot just to the keepers left at an easy height. In fairness, it looked like a harsh decision to call the penalty, the defenders arm seemed to be by his side, so maybe this was the best outcome.

FC London were struggling to create anything of any note, restricted to long shots and set pieces. It was Sigma making all the good chances but they couldn’t capitalize on these chances and in the 44th minute London finally got an opening and they took advantage. A looped ball over the top of the Sigma defensive line sound the oncoming London attacker, his shot was saved by Tristan Henry but the rebound fell right to Elvir Gigolaj who squeezed the ball passed the three Sigma defenders on the line.

The second half started how the first half went, but London struck in the 53rd minute, again from a Sigma error at the back. A through ball was not dealt with, Walton couldn’t get his feet right and the ball got through to the attacker Mohammad Nafar who took a touch and slotted the ball past Henry.

Babouli almost equalized from a direct free kick, the ball was aimed right for the near top corner before Dalton made a great diving save to his left to stop it. Velastegui also hit the post from a shot at the edge of the area which London were able to clear.

Strange decision around at 70th min.

The second half had been going along a lot like the first, with Sigma putting pressure on London but unable to convert their chances they were creating. They made a lot of chances before they finally got level in the 76th minute when a high cross from the back was spilled by the keeper Dalton and the ball fell right at eh foot of Velastegui who had the easy job of putting the ball in an empty net.

A red card was shown to London goal scorer to Gigolaj late on – though this was not shown on the video you can hear a couple spectators saying that he punched or hit someone? Let’s say dangerous play – like the appeals process, these types of things should probably be mentioned somewhere on the official site due to lack of media coverage – but this makes it 1-1 in sending’s off in the two games this season between these team.

Sigma had a lot of chances to get the ball in the box but didn’t create anything worthwhile after this and the game fizzled out to a draw, much like the previous game between the two teams. They now have two or three tough games out of five but so do Oakville, so the title could still be in the balance and we’ll see how that goes and could come down to the last game. They play Prostars at home on Saturday where they will be expecting to get a win against the bottom of the league team. Last time around Sigma won 4-1 but wasn’t as easy as it should have been.

 

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I should be able to get these articles out more regularly for the rest of the season so there shouldn’t be too more many epic 4 games ones. See you next week!

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Dan Baldwin

Dan Baldwin

Dan joins us to finally get involved in doing something about the sport he loves. Born in England he has played and followed the game his whole life. After moving to Toronto in 2014, he immediately began to learn about the local soccer scene and is passionate about the development of the sport in the country. However, he can still found cheering on his beloved West Ham each weekend morning at the Dog and Bear pub.

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