In a fantastic and gritty exhibition at Sheridan College Stadium on Matchweek Three, 2015 League1 Ontario Champions Oakville Blue Devils put 2014 League1 Ontario Champions Toronto FC III to the sword with a dramatic 3-2 win.
Despite being down to ten men after striker Felipe Vilela was sent off in the 58' minute with his second caution, Oakville rallied and found two goals off the boot of Matthew Santos (85', 89').
"It was one of the things we lacked last year," said Oakville head coach, Duncan Wilde. "I just told the boys after the game that that was more like the fighting spirit, that refuse to lose attitude if you will, we had in 2015."
"You know we've gotten back to having a blend of experienced and new youth that has come through our U21 program, so we are really pleased with Matt Santos to come on late and score two goals to win us the game."
Matt Santos (centre), Oakville Blue Devils (Photo: Courtesy of Oakville Blue Devils)
Oakville had the lead very early in the game courtesy of a goal from Julian Connor-McNamara (5'), but TFC III came back with two from Robert Boskovic (39') and Ethan Beckford (80') and appeared well-positioned to take the win while playing with the extra man. Head coach Danny Dichio spoke to his team's inability to see out the result.
"It was a matter of focus, concentration and the young boys playing against older players," he said. "They got caught up in the emotions of the game instead of getting caught up in the job at hand which was seeing us through to a win, and managing the game while we were man up, which we didn’t do a good job of."
"We got done with two direct balls, which we spoke about. Oakville are a very direct team. Unfortunately, we lost our focus and concentration due to things going on like the referee not handling certain situations. We lost focus throughout the game."
"We spoke about it, we spoke about it in training, we spoke about it at half time. In an against the wind situation, we knew there was going to be a lot of direct balls and we didn't manage it. Our back four did not do a good job of managing that long ball over the top of us and dealing with the second balls and the slip-ups our individual players made."
Danny Dichio, Toronto FC III (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
Wilde also spoke to his team's tactic of turning the TFC III defenders early with balls to the forwards, and how effective it was on the day.
"We’d been trying to run the ball through the channels and keep the ball on the ground because of the wind, but when you only got ten men, especially against a young, energetic, hard working team like them - we had to try and counter attack," he explained.
"So we put our pace up top and hit it quickly and luckily today it worked out for us cause we scored two goals doing that."
Dichio explained how his side had lost the mental aspect of the game, and how the club attempts to use these experiences to develop for full-time professional environments.
"The point of emphasis for this team in general is to progress them to TFC II," he said. "The big side of that is not only their talent and development in play but also their character."
"The mental side of the game seeing out games like we saw today, managing the physical game like we saw today because in the next level up there is no age barrier. Even in this league there is no age barrier for the boys… for you to move up to the professional range, you have to handle that a lot better so we’ve got to manage our emotions and work on our game management to be successful in this league."
Oakville Blue Devils will next play FC London on Friday May 19 at German Canadian Club, London.
Toronto FC III will next play North Mississauga Panthers on Saturday May 20 at Kia Training Ground, Toronto.