In a chilly, sluggish game, two moments of brilliance were all that stood between either the Cataraqui Clippers or ANB Futbol taking all the points home from the match at Kingston's Invista Centre.
In a rematch of the cup game played earlier this season (also late on a Friday night), ANB came to Kingston looking for revenge for that night's 2-1 loss. Both teams matched up with 4-4-2 formations, ANB's front two of Jashua Mills and Belrum Vartanian leading the line, and rotating with captain Jason Mills. Meanwhile, Clippers' 4-4-2 had a midfield with a rotating deep central midfielder, with this role often played by the trial player from the Ottawa Royals, and ex-Carleton University captain, Sam McHugh.
Much of the game was played in the midfield, without a lot of chances for either team. Indeed, one of the highlights of the first half hour was the careful set-up of a wall by Clippers' GK Navi Sidhu in the twentieth minute for a free kick taken by Jason Mills, which paid off well as the ensuing shot hit the wall and was cleared away easily.
A couple minutes later, defensive call-up Michael Roeterink was caught up-field waiting for a pass that never came, and ANB got a break going the other way; Vartanian's shot fell straight into Sidhu's waiting arms.
In the thirty-second minute, ANB was forced into a change, bringing Brandon Mills off for Patricio Gonzalez due to an injury. Gonzalez made an immediate impact as he helped create a chance for Vartanian. Vartanian got the ball and swung down the end line beating his man, Clippers' OYSL player Rafael Rodriguez, and getting a good shot off. Sidhu stood tall and got a knee on it, putting the ball out for the first corner of the game.
In the fortieth, Clippers got a corner of their own. In a move reminiscient of the first goal scored by Canada against Jamaica earlier in the week, the ball was put out to McHugh at the top of the area, and his volley was high and hard, forcing Amir Hossin Jomehri into his first save of the match, as he tipped it over the bar for another corner, one that was quickly wasted.
One change was made at halftime, with Clippers withdrawing Rodriguez for JJ Bosica, another call-up from the GKSSA - the Kingston men's league.
The second half started much more openly, as ANB got an early chance, just stopped by the toe of player/coach Chris Eveleigh, playing in the centre of defence. After that chance, the game settled into a midfield battle again, until the fifty-seventh when Clippers' defender Dylan Kirk was cautioned for unsporting behaviour after kicking out his foot to trip Vartanian.
With that caution, ANB began stepping-up the pressure on Clippers, but their burgoning game control was almost thrown away in the sixty-third as Jomehri made a rare miscue, passing a ball directly to the Clippers. Fortunately for ANB, Clippers' captain Jason Massie's shot went wide of his goal.
Clippers were forced into an injury change in the sixty-seventh, bringing off Roeterink for Omolade Ogunsanya. Winger Jason Zelt dropped back into the defense, with Ogunsanya stepping into the winger role. Within two minutes, ANB's Jacob Sookal was cautioned for a foul against striker Zoom Langwa, and two minutes after that ANB were forced into their second injury change of the match, withdrawing Anthony Smith for Peter Quattrociocchi.
Shortly thereafter, Clippers were awarded a free kick at twenty-five yards. Massie and Bosica stood over the ball, and when the whistle came, Bosica curled a low and hard shot around the wall, scoring the game's opening goal, just inside the near post, to give Clippers a 1-0 lead.
That goal raised tensions, and both teams began to commit some questionable fouls, none that referee Dan Popescu felt worthy of a card, much to the ANB staff's chagrin, especially when Quattrociocchi appeared to be taken down by Sidhu in the eighty-fourth.
As regulation time wound up, the sign went up indicating five minutes of added time. The first four minutes amounted to nothing, but the last minute had it all. Cautions were issues to Langwa and Massie for unsporting behaviour, and a third successive foul at the top of the penalty area gave ANB a free-kick in the dying seconds. Vartanian made no mistake, chipping the wall and leaving Sidhu frozen on his line, making the final result a 1-1 draw that obviously was disappointing to both teams as they left the field of play.