Valour hand Forge FC first home loss of season


Valour hand Forge FC first home loss of season

Winnipeg Valour FC is coming home with six points, two impressive victories and a renewed sense of confidence heading into July.

The club handed Forge FC (Hamilton) its first home loss of the season with a 1-0 win Wednesday night at Tim Hortons Field. Winnipeg’s victory capped off a two-game road trip in Ontario that saw them post back-to-back wins for the first time since last fall.

Ryan McCullough, Brandon Taylor / Forge FC Hamilton

Valour FC capped off a perfect road trip with a 1-0 win over Forge FC Wednesday in Hamilton.

“I think these are moments that build teams,” said Valour head coach Phillip Dos Santos. “I’ve been in teams that have won and these are moments that build you towards that, these are moments that make players believe in their ability that could propel the team to levels of confidence that are extremely high.”

The first 45 minutes of Wednesday’s match were a tactical battle and neither side wanted to give the other an edge.

Valour’s Brett Levis stood out in the first half for all the right reasons, breaking up scoring attempts and helping jump start the offence.

Winnipeg also had some prime scoring opportunities in the first half, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Valour forward William Akio found teammate Alessandro Riggi on the opposite side of the pitch in the 16th minute, but ran out of room before getting off a shot attempt.

However, it was Forge’s Tristan Borges who had everyone but Valour goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois beat in the 26th minute. Borges put the ball just wide of the net for what would’ve been a surefire goal.

The two sides were relatively even in the opening 45 minutes with four shots each and Forge controlled possession 54 per cent to 46 per cent.

“We have to keep working,” said Dos Santos. “We have to use these moments… and make it serve as a blueprint of success.”

As many coaches across the Canadian Premier League will tell you, possession means nothing if you can’t do anything with it. While Valour was under heavy pressure to begin the second half, they were first on the scoreboard.

Akio scored what was the game-winner in the 61st minute. Walter Ponce got the play going with a well-timed tackle and Sean Rea was able to get the ball to Akio, notching his league-leading fifth assist of the season on the goal.

The 23-year-old’s second goal of the season was another crucial marker, much like when he netted a near buzzer-beater June 5 to help Valour settle for a draw with FC Edmonton.

“He’s just a guy that sometimes comes in very clutch,” said Sirois. “I think he scored a similar goal last year at home against Forge too, I think he comes up big when we need him.”

Sirois also had himself a night with a well-earned clean sheet in the victory. Forge had 12 shots in the match – four of which were on target – and Sirois made a flurry of saves in the dying minutes to keep Winnipeg’s winning hopes alive.

He said the club is maturing and have learned from previous matches like the 2-2 draw against Pacific FC May 28 where they squandered a lead.

“If we continue… just eliminating those mistakes and being solid defensively, I think we have a good chance of continuing good performances like that,” said Sirois.

The club left Winnipeg last weekend without a win in over a month and now has a 4-4-4 record this season, which is good for 16 points.

Valour’s next match won’t be until July 10 when they’ll face HFX Wanderers FC (Halifax) at IG Field. Dos Santos said the group looks forward to a bit of a break and getting more players back in the lineup.

“I think that we have a chance to elevate the level of this team and find another gear,” said Dos Santos. “That’s what we’re going to be working for, but the 10 days is what we need.”

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