Valour FC heating up just in time

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An order of stout defence with a side of awe-inspiring playmaking was on the menu for Valour FC Sunday afternoon.

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An order of stout defence with a side of awe-inspiring playmaking was on the menu for Valour FC Sunday afternoon.

Entering the day six points out of the fourth and final playoff spot, Winnipeg’s club bested York United FC 2-0 at IG Field to stamp a second consecutive win.

Goalkeeper Rayane Yesli, coming off the first win and clean sheet of his CPL career on Thursday, made another start and was a star once again in his third appearance of the season.

VALOUR FC

A Valour FC player takes a corner Sunday.

The 6-7 Canadian stymied four shots, all from inside the penalty box, to anchor his club to another victory at a crucial point in the season.

“Of course it feels really good. But the most important thing for us was to go and win these two games and we did that,” Yesli said after the match.

Credit is due to the Valour defence, however. The club’s tenacious style in their own end caused fits for York, who didn’t see a quality chance until the ending moments of the first frame.

“I think we’re at a point in the season where we built a lot of connections defensively. The guys, they stick together, they play hard, they play well. And it looks like everybody just understands each other and it’s really helpful,” he said.

The first half featured several close calls offensively for Valour, who dominated the opening 45 minutes with 59 per cent possession rate and five shots on target, three from inside the box.

In the 12th minute, leading scorer Moses Dyer settled a cross-pitch volley to the lower-left area of the box, spun with the ball still in the air and sent the challenge at York keeper Niko Giantsopoulos, who got his fingertips on the hard shot and steered the ball out of bounds.

The ensuing corner eventually found Dyer’s foot again in the lower-right area of the box. He spun and booted the ball toward the net, but another remarkable stretch save kept the score clean. Giantsopoulos injured his leg on the play and lay on the ground for four minutes while being attended to by trainers. He returned to action briefly before leaving the match under his own power in the 21st minute.

Later in the frame, new addition forward Billy Forbes put his defender in a blender before sailing a left-footed shot wide of the net. The shot drew gasps from those in attendance and was a prelude for what would be a special night for the veteran.

What was a lot of encouraging playmaking offensively still yielded no goals for Valour entering the second frame.

The host club came out of the break looking like a fire had been lit, however, and didn’t wait long to create and bury a chance.

In the 46th minute, Forbes worked his way toward the middle of the pitch then found a pushing Sean Rea, who patiently waited for an opening before potting the match’s opening goal and his fourth on the season.

Forbes and Rea were at it again in the 69th minute, when Rea sprung Forbes on a breakaway with a pretty lofted pass from midfield. With two defenders closing on him, Forbes blasted a right-footed boot to the top right corner to double Valour’s lead. The insurance marker was Forbes’, who was loaned to Valour on July 21 from the USL’s Detroit City FC, first goal of the year.

“We know Rea is Rea. Rea is a player on any given game could (pull) a rabbit out of a hat and open things up … and then the second goal by Billy is just what Billy is — that’s Billy Forbes,” said Valour coach Philip Dos Santos.

“I think Billy was going through a lot of frustrations where he was before … we knew when we brought Billy in that he fit what we were about. Now I’m happy for him because it’s someone who found a second life this season. “

Dos Santos called his club the best team on the pitch on Sunday. With few things to clean up at halftime, his speech at the break was simple: “Keep calm.”

“We scored in moments that were important and never gave too much to the opposition. I think we were, again, solid defensively. I think that the guys committed to what the trademark of the team needs to be: a team that doesn’t give up many chances and when we do give them, we’re able to put bodies in front of the shots and then just sacrifice a little bit more. I think today, the guys did that.”

Winnipeg improved to 5-1-2 in their last eight matches, keeping them six points outside the final playoff spot while they heat up in time for the most crucial stretch of the season.

Valour (7-5-6) will look to extend their win streak to three when they head out on the road to play HFX Wanderers FC next Saturday at Wanderers Grounds.

jfreysam@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @jfreysam

Joshua Frey-Sam

Joshua Frey-Sam
Reporter

Joshua Frey-Sam happily welcomes a spirited sports debate any day of the week.

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