The Windsor Stars played to an eventful but goal-less draw in their Wednesday night L1 Cup fixture against Master's FA. Both teams ended the game with ten men, and a post-match scuffle gave the few remaining in the stands some wry entertainment.
Conditions were poor for this match, as scattered showers soaked the field and made for a slick playing surface; both teams struggled to keep the ball from skidding out-of-bounds.
The opening ten minutes were tense for Master's FA, as they came under heavy pressure and conceded early chances to Stars forwards' Gino Berardi and Michael Pio. Masters often struggled to clear their lines, and one returned clearance found an open Berardi in the box, who dragged the shot wide of the target.
Shortly afterwards, an intercepted penetrating pass resulted in a Stars' corner. Master's FA failed to clear their lines properly on the set-piece, and the ball rolled towards Stars' winger Ciprian Codea. The forward unleashed a cannon of a shot towards the goal, but Master's FA keeper Shane Lopez stepped-up and deflected the ball over his net.
There were signs that Master's FA could be a real threat going forward on the counter. An early galloping run forward by Frank Koue caused issues, as he powered his way around two Stars' defenders and placed a shot towards goal. Keeper Anthony Santilli parried the shot, but the rebound was quite nearly tucked away by Masters.
The deadlock continued as both teams fought hard to find the first goal, with the Stars in particular finding it tough to break down the organized Master's defence.
Star's attacker Dragoi made a wonderful run behind the defence in the thirty-seventh minute, when he had the goal at his mercy but failed to hit the target. A failure to finish similarly good chances has seen the team to slip through the standings recently.
The first half wasn’t incident free, as Master's Louis Jordan Brazil received a straight red in extra time for dissent. The player was adamant he didn’t instigate the red card, but after receiving a yellow for earlier challenge the forward had said some words and walked away. The referee reacted as though he heard the player say something unacceptable, and issued the Master's FA midfielder his marching orders.
The tempo of the game changed in the second half as a result of the red card. Master's FA were reduced to ten men and set-out to defend the clean sheet. The Stars continued to have troubles breaking down the defence of Masters, and the more committed the Stars became in the attack, the more susceptible they became to counters.
The Stars had the first clear-cut chance of the half snatched by an outstanding save from Lopez following a free kick that was awarded from twenty-yards out. David Kadoic stepped up to take the kick, and hit a curling ball towards the top right corner, but Lopez was able to palm the ball away from the net.
Encouraged by the recent attempt, the Stars started to play the ball around with purpose. A quickly switched ball from the right flank was teed-up for an oncoming Dragoi, but the attempt was sent soaring over the bar.
The surface continued to cause issues for the players, with the ball skipping out of control and causing rash or mis-timed challenges. The referee had to reach for his red card for the second time on the night, after Stars' defender Jamar Kelly was sent to the dressing room following a rough challenge that forced the ref's hand in issuing a second caution to the defender.
Ultimately, the match would end in a scoreless draw, with eight yellows and two red cards issued. In such conditions, it was unsurprising that a post match skirmish ensued at the full-time whistle, as tempers flared and frustrations finally found boiling point.