It was a heated affair between North Toronto Nitros and Woodbridge Strikers, as the Nitros were able to prevail and grab a 2-0 victory after a brace from captain Niba Macdonald.
At the beginning, both sides shared possession of the ball and created chances, but were not able to finish them off. Things started to change when Woodbridge's Gabriel Sosa hauled down a player in the box and set up a Macdonald penalty kick.
After that opening goal, North Toronto didn't seem to look back. Woodbridge would go down a man after Stephen Almeida was sent off, allowing North Toronto to tighten up in defence, take liberties in attack, and rarely gave their opponents chances on goal.
Nitros' head coach Gary Fleming mentioned after the match that he was impressed with his strong backline of Macdonald, Christian Westlaken, Javad Hoseini and Myles Abero.
The compact shape of the four defenders was key in limiting Woodbridge's attacking chances and stay compact.
Just before the half, Macdonald was back at it again from the penalty spot, after a second Nitros' player was tripped up in the box. With that second penalty kick goal, Macdonald earned his sixth goal of the season.
Things started to change for Woodbridge in the second, after they brought on two attacking players in Dylan Carreiro and Oscar Cordon, but the Nitros were able to continue strong, pressuring Woodbridge at the right moments.
"We didn't have the greatest start," said Woodbridge Strikers' coach Peter Pinizzotto.
"But the game got out of hands... getting the two penalty shots and playing two men down, it's not easy for our boys."
Working hard and keeping their intensity is something that Woodbridge Strikers coach Peter Pinizzotto said was missing from his team on Wednesday. However he would mention that he thought his team looked better in the second half.
"I think in the second half they put out a little bit more effort. It was one of those games that we had a poor start and things simply didn't go our way."
This was North Toronto’s fourth straight shutout win, as they continue to climb the League1 Ontario east division. Fleming mentioned that he was looking to get a win against the Strikers, after previous meetings saw his team lose close contests.
"We're happy to get a result. The previous two games, we lost in the league 1-0 and then we lost in the third leg [off a penalty] in the cup."
"We felt we deserved it. Even before all the yellow cards and red cards, we thought we were the better team,” said Fleming.
Fleming also praised the play of Felix Ngah, whose speed and strength made him a difficult presence for Woodbridge to handle.
"His intensity helped lead to Woodbridge playing with more physical," said Fleming.
Both North Toronto and Woodbridge have one game remaining in their seasons, as they both look to grab second in the east. With the win, the Nitros are now two points behind Woodbridge, who currently hold second place.
A win for the Strikers at home against Aurora United on Sunday, October 2 would clinch second place, but a draw or loss in that match would leave room for North Toronto to leapfrog the Strikers if they beat Durham United FA on Sept 30 in their respective final match.