In sweltering conditions on matchweek 13, the league's best offence met the league's best defence as Oakville and Woodbridge clashed at Sheridan College, Oakville.
Little quarter was granted by either team in what shaped up to be a midfield battle for inches of attacking progress, and in the end Woodbridge shaded the result by a slim 1-0 scoreline; Christian Cavallini's (48') strike just after the half-time break proved to be decisive.
"Our concern going into the game was not to concede to a set play or a counter attack," said Oakville head coach, Duncan Wilde. "Unfortunately we did just that early in the second half, and Woodbridge claimed the only goal in a very untidy game."
"I will say it was a total team effort to play away in a difficult place and be able to come up with three points against a team that has not lost all season, and more importantly not giving up any goals against a top scoring team," said Woodbridge head coach, Peter Pinizzotto. "This really shows how hard teams have to work against our solid defence."
"I thought both teams played very well with great players on both teams. We needed the win in order to stay with teams in front of us."
"I thought we did more than enough to get something out of the game," said Wilde. "But the old saying - "if you don't score, you can't win" - proved true enough on a day when we had enough possession to create several chances that unfortunately went begging."
Coaches had difficulty naming MVPs on an exceptionally hot and humid day that required mental focus and group organization more than physical prowess, but certain individuals were highlighted.
"I thought their best player by far was their centre back Eric Crawford," said Pinizzotto. "He did a great job controlling the back line and also winning many balls in the air."
"For the first time this season I cannot highlight anyone positively for effecting the game," said Wilde. "I thought it was too slow throughout, even though it was a very hot and humid afternoon. Woodbridge earned a vital three points to keep them in touch with the leaders, and we will be looking for a very positive response in our next game to maintain our own position going into August."
Tempers boiled over at the final whistle, resulting in a rash of six cautions, four dismissals, and further discipline to be levied by the League1 discipline committee. Both coaches condemned the uncharacteristic loss of composure from both squads.
"Poor challenges from both teams continued throughout the match and the tension between the players boiled over at the final whistle, in what was a completely unavoidable brawl that no one wants to see," said Wilde.
"It was unfortunate at the end of the game that it got out of control with a couple players getting into confrontation," confirmed Pinizzotto. "This was too bad that the game finished in a bad note because it was a good game to watch."
Oakville has a very difficult match in matchweek 14, playing second place Vaughan Azzurri on Sunday August 2 at Sheridan College Stadium, Oakville - 4 p.m. kickoff.
Woodbridge has a bye over the long weekend, returning to league play on Friday August 7 at Kinsmen Park, Pickering vs. Durham United F.C. - 8 p.m. kickoff.