Oakville Blue Devils needed just three points to secure the 2015 League1 Ontario title, but Toronto FC Academy played spoilers for the potential weekend party after winning 2-0 over the Devils at Kia Training Grounds.
Goals from Tristan Borges (69') and Martin Davis (54') exemplified the speed and cutting edge of the TFCA attack. In both instances - Borges from the right flank, Davis from the inside left - Oakville couldn't handle the speed of movement of the academy boys and too often the Junior Reds found space to threaten the Oakville net.
"Our main focus for the game was to compete and match the pace and work rate of the younger academy boys," said Oakville head coach, Duncan Wilde.
"That proved too much for us on the day. A greatly improved and very confident TFC dominated the ball and made it a very difficult first 45 minutes. We found ourselves restricted to counter attacks and relied on two outstanding saves from [GK] Carman to keep us in the game at half time."
Both teams also benefitted from last ditch tackles by central defenders to keep the clean sheet by half-time. TFCA's Nikola Stakic managed to block the Devils' Brandon Duarte after the forward was clear in on goal in the 20th minute. Oakville's sprawling centre back Trevor Wynter did the same for Oakville just before the half-time whistle.
Where TFCA's passing and movement characterized the first half in particular, Oakville's renewed energy after the interval initially defined the second half. However, TFCA's attacking talents could not be kept out for long.
"We adjusted our shape at the break and played a lot higher in the second half early going, which resulted in two or three very good attacking plays with chances on goal," said Wilde.
"I thought we had finally established a better shape and presence, just as we turned the ball over in our own half, we could not recover it and Martin Davis finished with an excellent low shot to the bottom corner."
After a long season of grueling matches, the wear and tear on Oakville's key players began to show in the second half as players began to succumb to injury. Wilde reached to his bench, but TFCA were ready and able to capitalize on any moment of adjustment.
"We introduced some added pace of our own in [Khody] Ellis and [Adam] Gould, but losing captain [Taylor] McNamara to injury, closely followed by same to Chris Mitchell after coming on as a substitute, didn't help our cause," he explained.
"The second goal was pretty much a copy of the first one, with us giving up the ball again under pressure in our own half of the field. This time a high shot beating [GK] Sani for the 2-0 lead and final score."
A couple of important scenarios remain in play for the men's 2015 League1 Ontario title race.
Only Woodbridge Strikers can keep the pressure on the leaders Oakville, and must win on Wednesday September 30 at Kinsmen Park, Pickering, vs. Durham United FC (8 p.m. kickoff) to remain in the hunt. A loss would hand the title to Oakville Blue Devils.
However, even if Woodbridge win, Oakville will still have one chance to secure the title in their final match of the season, Saturday October 3 at Victoria Park, Brampton, vs. Pro Stars FC - 7 p.m. kickoff.
"A win will clinch us the 2015 League1 championship and a total of 53 points for the season," concluded Wilde.
"It is completely in our own hands and we need a constructive week of preparation, together with a strong performance to close out the year."