I joined the Woodbridge Strikers this past weekend at Vaughan Grove, as they hosted Durham United in their home opener for the 2017 season. The weather was bright yet somewhat chilly, though I could hardly complain as the forecast earlier in the week called for a rain/snow mix and a windchill below freezing. Luckily I had the foresight to grab my winter coat just before I left to come to the game.
I’d estimate the attendance to be between 80 and 100 when the spectator count peaked in the second half, including a fair amount of Durham supporters based on the “corrections” I heard aimed towards the referee during the match. This was Woodbridge’s only match scheduled for the turf field this season; all others will be held on the grass pitch right beside it (as always, schedule changes notwithstanding).
The match starting out with a flurry of chances for Woodbridge, led by winger James Baker, who was a potent offensive threat all game. The first two minutes saw two chances on net for him; one back-and-forth across the net that went out of bounds, and another through-ball lost to a strong charge which was lucky to avoid an early call from the referee. These first few chances set the tone for the early part of the match; Woodbridge owned the midfield and pushed forward with strong pressure on Durham’s defense, forcing mistakes and making the visitors rely on the long ball to generate their attacking opportunities. The match also became a rather chippy affair in the early going, with pleas for foul calls being frequent yet unheeded, and Durham players (while arguably deserving more calls in their favour) forgetting the ball to beseech the referee for justice on more than one occasion.
The best chance early in the first half came from the aforementioned James Baker, who found some room and an open path to the net just outside the penalty area, unleashing a shot from about twenty yards out. Heading towards the top corner, the shot forced Durham keeper Ben Cowman into an impressive dive to just tip the oncoming ball over the crossbar, earning some well-deserved applause from the crowd. Cowman would show a tough, physical presence throughout the match (particularly in the second half), challenging Woodbridge forwards for incoming crosses – earning many collisions in the process – to keep the score low.
Durham started to turn a corner with about twenty minutes remaining in the first half, managing to generate more threatening opportunities while disrupting Woodbridge’s prior hold on the midfield. Still, Woodbridge keeper Quillan Roberts made a few diving saves to keep the match scoreless, and the lack of calls going Durham’s way finally led to frustrations boiling over just before half with two undisciplined cautions; the first to Jonathon Parolini with a fast challenge & clip of an opponent which took a few seconds for the referee to call, and the second to Taylor Lord for two successive strong pushes from behind as Woodbridge rushed in on net; the first of which would’ve been grounds for a foul (if not a caution) in my books. This second caution gave Woodbridge’s Dylan Carreiro a free kick from 25 yards out – I initially thought that it was going high over the next and put my camera down, but it might have fooled Cowman as well, as the ball sailed into the top-left corner past a diving keeper to give Woodbridge the lead going into half time.
Durham came out firing on all cylinders to start the second 45, generating chances right from the start. Only a few minutes into the half, Durham’s Jumbo Iyowuna found room close in front to get off a shot; the save would bounce to Edward Lay (whose shot was blocked, with calls of a hand ball), and a third shot by another Durham player would also be blocked and go out for a corner (with a second, less enthusiastic, round of calls of a hand ball). Another great chance would come courtesy of Jonathon Parolini – who showed amazing energy right up until the final whistle and was a constant roadblock to Woodbridge’s aspirations in the midfield – who received a cross about ten yards out, only to have his shot into the right corner blocked by Woodbridge’s Stephen Almeida.
With the wind at their backs for the second half, Woodbridge relied more on long balls to their wingers, and while the home squad generated a fair number of chances and forced a number of diving saves, Durham’s collapsing defense meant that Woodbridge wasn’t able to sustain any offensive pressure for a long period of time. Similarly, Durham was able to effectively isolate & anticipate Woodbridge in the midfield, preventing any sort of sustained buildup and forcing them into the occasional misplay or out-of-bounds ball. For their part, Durham also started relying more on long balls as the night wore on, resulting in a number of 1-on-3 situations that they could do little with. While Durham did seem to have the balance of possession, Woodbridge seemed to generate more chances with their long balls in the last twenty minutes than the visitors, of which – luckily for me, as my camera decided it wanted to be blurry after the sun set – none found their way into the back of the net. The final result was a 1-0 victory for the home side.
I was a little worried for this match before coming in – Woodbridge started off the season against Master’s (bottom of the standings in 2016), managing only a last-minute come-from-behind victory, while Durham claimed a 0-0 draw against last year’s league champions in Vaughan last week. While Durham could have felt justified in claiming at least a point from this match, there wasn’t a massive mismatch in skill that I had been worried about beforehand. For their part, Durham must have angered the scheduling gods in some way after facing Vaughan and Woodbridge for their first two matches – the zero points they’re showing in the standings doesn’t reflect how they’re likely to do this season.
These two teams split the season series last year (one win a piece), so look forward to the rematch on Saturday, September 8th at Kinsmen Park. I’ll be at the following Woodbridge matches for the rest of the year – come and join me! Tickets are only $5 per person (kids are free if they’re wearing Woodbridge gear), or you can be ambitious and get a season pass for $20 (good for both men’s and women’s teams). I believe the snack bar at the clubhouse will be open for matches as well.
Saturday, June 10 @ 3:30 PM – Vaughan Azzurri (@ McNaughton Park)
Sunday, June 25 @ 7:00 PM – FC London
Wednesday, August 9 @ 9:00 PM – Vaughan Azzurri
Sunday, September 24 @ 7:00 PM – Aurora FC
Also, be sure to keep an eye out for Woodbridge’s first round cup match against Sanjaxx, next Wednesday (May 16) at Monarch Park. My next report will be in two weeks, as Vaughan Azzurri takes a trip to Varsity Stadium to face the North Toronto Nitros; Sunday, May 21 at 4:30 PM. See you then!
#1 – Quillan Roberts (GK)
#3 – Kyle Watson
#5 – Michael Fayehum – YC (17′)
#6 – Joshua Paredes-Procter
#9 – Milan Beader – Subbed off (62′)
#10 – Christian Cavallini
#11 – Stephen Almeida
#14 – Joel Anderson
#15 – James Baker – Subbed off (82′)
#16 – Dylan Carreiro – 1 Goal (45+2′) – Subbed off (84′)
#18 – Ignazio Muccilli – Subbed off (32′)
#17 – Emmanuel Isaac – Subbed on (32′)
#21 – Claudio Sereno – Subbed on (62′)
#19 – Stefano Voci – Subbed on (82′)
#24 – Domenico Futia – Subbed on (84′)
WOODBRIDGE 1 : 0 DURHAM
45+2′ GOAL – WDB #16 Dylan Carreiro
8′ YC – DUR #4 Joe Zupo
17′ YC – WDB #5 Michael Fayehum
45′ YC – DUR #18 Jonathon Parolini
45+2′ YC – DUR #8 Taylor Lord
#00 – Ben Cowman (GK)
#12 – Bruce Cullen – Subbed off (HT)
#10 – Kashiff DeJonge – Subbed off (66′)
#16 – Jumbo Iyowuna – Subbed off (79′)
#6 – Cameron Brooks
#8 – Taylor Lord – YC (45+2′)
#4 – Joe Zupo – YC (8′)
#18 – Jonathon Parolini – YC (45′)
#17 – Joseph Roccasalva – Subbed off (63′)
#15 – Tyrell Rayne – Subbed off (73′)
#5 – Edward Lay
#13 – Tajmir Ashraq – Subbed on (HT)
#11 – Vince Sasso – Subbed on (63′)
#7 – Christian Moncrieffe – Subbed on (66′)
#19 – Nashon Campbell – Subbed on (73′)
#9 – La Rohne Young – Subbed on (79′)