Niklas Bauer’s breakthrough goal in the 36th minute helped lead ANB Futbol to their second victory of the season, edging Master’s FA Saints by a score of 1-0 on Saturday night at L’Amoreaux Park.
After the game, ANB Futbol General Manager Marcelo Almeida was noticeably relieved with the victory.
“I really think the team is gelling a little bit more than it had at the very beginning of the year,” he said.
“The guys are just learning to play with each other, and now training has been good, the environment around the club has been solid and tonight was a great performance all around. The guys displayed their full will to get away with the three points tonight.”
The Saints came out the more positive side in the early going, but it was ANB that earned the first real shot in anger in the seventh minute when Jashua Mills drilled a free kick off the crossbar from just outside the box. His brother Jason Mills had earned the set piece after making a run down the left channel and was fouled 19-yards from goal in a dangerous position.
As the game progressed, it became a fairly chippy affair, with little sustained possession, flow or sharpness in the final third from either club.
However, ANB’s relentless counter-attack efforts finally paid off in the 36th minute as Bauer tore down the left wing to latch onto a neatly timed through ball, and slotted his shot past Masters’ keeper Shane Lopez with a classy finish.
“Nik is definitely a hard worker,” said Almeida.
“He doesn’t shy away from anything and when he gets those chances he is going to bury them. That’s what happened today so it was great to see.”
A poor turnover moments later gave Brandon Mills an opportunity to double the lead but his long-range effort, while attempting to catch Lopez off his line, flew over the crossbar by mere inches.
Masters lacked the composure in the final third throughout the first half to create a serious threat on the ANB net, and their wastefulness played perfectly into the visitor’s counter-attacking style.
The physical theme continued in the second half as frustration and retaliation settled in for both clubs, with little flow or creativity evident.
Masters came closest to tying the match in the 65th minute when the energetic Michael Themelis slid in to connect with a near-post cross, but he was denied by Shiquan Lowe, who dove in to deny Themelis of the open goal.
Franck Koue, who was the Saints’ most dangerous player all night, also came close to evening the contest in the 79th minute but his low blast missed just wide of the near-post.
ANB goalkeeper Hayden Armstrong earned his first clean sheet of the season.
The triumph propelled ANB into sixth place in the League1 Ontario table, their highest placing thus far. MFA Saints fell to eighth, only behind Durham United on goal difference.
ANB is next in action July 16 when they host Toronto FC Academy, who sit atop the L1 table. Saints will travel to Kingston to take on the Clippers on July 19.