Kevin Dhillon (Photo: Ian Shalapata)
Returning home after an away loss to TFC Academy a week ago, the Windsor Stars were looking to mark one in the win column as they kicked off against North Mississauga for the first time ever.
To begin the match, the Panthers continuously moved the ball forward, testing Stars keeper Kyle Vizirakis and the defense. A scratch for the Stars was defender Jamar Kelly, but Brendan Teeling and Marco Bernabo stepped up to fill the void.
In the eighteenth minute, Celso Carapau found himself alone to the left of North Mississauga’s keeper Daniel Gosciniak, and soundly struck the ball off the cross bar. Windsor’s Leighton Speechley-Price, with a new international clearance, looked to burry the rebound, but was pulled down inside the eighteen, resulting in a penalty.
Speechley-Price made no mistake as he lodged the ball under the cross bar for a 1-nil Stars lead.
Windsor’s advantage was short-lived as the visitors moved forward until Lee-Victor Massunda rifled a shot that Vizirakis misplayed. With just three minutes between the goals, new life had been breathed into the 0-1-2 club from Peel.
"Definitely room for improvement," Vizirakis said of his play. "I struggled just catching the ball clean. The first goal should have never happened. Just a lazy kinda slow reaction."
Photo: Ian Shalapata
The sides then matched efforts with a majority of the play taking place in the midfield. Windsor’s midfield pushed the ball up the left wing for Noah Pio, who carried it wide with an opportunity of turning the corner on the defence. He didn’t get that chance, though, as he too was brought down with a hard tackle and another penalty was awarded to Windsor.
Speechley-Price again soundly found the back of the net as he went left with the shot while Gosciniak guessed the other way.
At half time, the Stars enjoyed the 2-1 margin on the strength of two penalty kicks.
"We got beat by two long passes from their defense, from set plays where we were actually attacking," said North Mississauga coach Rick Titus. "We’ll have to work on our alertness and getting behind the ball quicker."
Photo: Ian Shalapata
In the second half North Mississauga strove to draw even but the re-aligned Windsor defense held them off. Any chances that were brought into the box were met by Vizirakis to maintain the Stars lead.
In the eightieth minute Speechley-Price was removed from the match, by Stars coach Shane Topalovic, in favour of newcomer Jumbo Iyowuna. The skilled ball-handler helped to keep control for Windsor until he was presented with a clear shot at the Panthers' goal.
Iyowuna made no mistake as he capped the scoring at 3-1 for the home side with a low shot that found the far corner.
"It feels great," Iyowuna said after the match. "It shows that hard work pays off. I just want to do my part for the team. If I have to go in for the last five minutes to help the team win, that's what I'll do."
Despite the 3-goal outburst by Windsor, Topalovic credited the defense with setting the stage for the win.
"Teeling went in as a guy who has never played sweeper at this level and it looked like he'd been there for years," the coach said. "He was one of the top three guys on the field for us today. Marco [Bernabo] is always, always consistent back there. Overall I think our defense held up pretty well."
Photo: Ian Shalapata
Conversely, Titus is considering all his options in the face of a poor showing thus far in the season.
"Just not finishing," Titus explained. "We're getting into the box. A lot of balls crossed into the box, but nobody's attacking them. We've worked on it but we may need to make some changes in personnel."
Windsor is now 2-1-1 on the young season, sitting in third spot in the League1 Ontario West Division with seven points. They will play at home again this Friday at 7:30pm when Sigma FC visit Windsor. Sigma is tied for 1st place with FC London and hold a 4-0-0 record and twelve points.
Admission to Alumni Field at the University of Windsor is at 6:30 p.m. and the cost is just $10 for adults and children under 15 are $5.