Sun May 3
Written By: Staff, League1
In a very tight battle at Master's home grounds, L'Amoreaux, it was the academicians Sigma F.C. that would conjure the win in the late stages, winning 2-1 after a goal from Daniel White (83'), and a penalty from Michael Matic (90'+2). Michael Bershov got the lone marker for Master's Saints.
"We got into overtime, Sigma got in a number of crosses, and there was some good play by their left winger," said Master's owner/ director Junior Groves. "We went into a tackle on one ball in the box, and the referee gave a penalty and that is where it ended – 2-1. It was an unfortunate one, but I think 1-1 would have been an appropriate and fair score for the nature of the contest."
Sigma head coach Bobby Smyrniotis identified Master's #5 (Michael Bershov) as the opposition's key player.
"He took his goal well to tie up the match," said Smyrniotis. "In general [he] was good throughout in organizing his team and breaking up plays in mid and final thirds."
Smyrniotis selected a joint-MVP from his team, neither of which were on the score sheet.
"Manvir Brar (#8): our most experienced player on the pitch played in that manner for 90 minutes, and provided us very good penetrating runs through midfield especially in the first half," he noted.
"He made good decisions going forward and had the opponent on their back foot anytime he found space between the lines."
"Aaron D’Souza (#15): had a very solid game on both sides of the ball. Defensively he neutralized what could have been a very good right side of the opponent. On the attacking end he really opened up and provided good play and overloads in the second half to push the opponent back."
Smyrniotis also identified an feature of play that was an issue for both teams in their first League1 match of the season.
"The biggest challenge for all the teams is being match sharp at this stage of the year. On our end we like to control tempo and that needs a degree of precision, sharpness and execution which is not at the level I would like at this point of the year. All in all we did a good job of controlling tempo but our shapness and execution was missing in the final third."
Despite some last minute personnel changes, it was Sigma's depth that ultimately tipped the balance in their favour.
"We had one key starter who became unavailable earlier in the day (Alex Halis – Flu) and two other attacking options on the bench who were ruled out with muscle injuries earlier in the day. We had to reshuffle a little and asked a couple of guys off the bench to play new roles. In the end our two subs brought us our first goal (Daniel Whyte) and [Duran] Lee won the decisive penalty."
Smyriotis spoke highly of the organization and discipline in the Master's side, and pointed to difficulties in breaking them down as the key element of play that led to such a prolonged stalemate.
"Within the match, the opponent soaked a up a great deal of pressure and it provided us a great deal of possession," he noted. "It is not easy to break down a well organized team and patience is needed. At moments we did the right things and others we were a little to quick to play into situations. We had planned for it but in the end the biggest trick is having the players execute it for 90 minutes."
As the victors, Sigma can go away from this away fixture with the comfort that three points brings. However, after highlighting certain positives, Smyrniotis was quick to point out that much work was still required before the team could perform to its potential.
"We had a set plan from before the match tactically based on our field strengths and what we believed the opponent would show us. It was as we had planned and we continually asked our players to stick with it. Our two goals came from set pieces but originate from what we looked for in our players to execute tactically so that was important for us."
"As for moving forward we will continue the week ahead with working on our final third sharpness, and getting our guys into a better rhythm of things. Over the next two to three weeks there will be a lot of moving parts in our roster with players reporting back from the US but in the meantime I am very happy with the players I currently have at my disposal and believe in their ability both technically and tactically."
Luke Iacobellis (GK), Jamal Joseph, Kenny Lioutas, Nolan Holdridge, Aaron D'Souza, Manny Morgado, Manvir Brar, Mike Matic, Darcy Bloeman (Daniel White 75'), Marcel Zajac, Elijah Larin (Duran Lee 60')
Master's FA Saints
Shane Lopez (GK), Tyrell Rayne, Michael Bershov, Conroy Henry (Nima Najafi 60'), Sam Gardner, David James (Alex Flores 42'), Kamden Holder, Jude Alanwoko, Farzan Mirzazadeh, Deo Daniel Nash, Alex Dimitrou (Devonte Brown 75')