Sat Jun 14
Written By: Fletcher, Alex
A famous man once said that you never win anything with kids.
Cataraqui Clippers argued the point tonight by calling up three OYSL U17 players - two of whom were among their best players on the night - for their cup match against ANB Futbol at the CaraCo Home Field in Kingston.
ANB Futbol's day did not start well; their bus suffered a flat tire soon after departure, and the delayed start time did not help them and their shortened bench.
The Clippers started with the ball and, in their royal blue jerseys, played in a 4-2-3-1 formation against ANB's matching layout. ANB rotated their front four, alternating brothers Jason and Jashua Mills as the man leading the line.
For the first twenty minutes of the match, the play was relatively even, shifting one way and the other with each goalkeeper called into duty: Navi Sidhu sliding out to take a ball off of Jashua Mills' feet, and Amir Hossin Jomehri stepping out to claim a cross from U17 player Ryan Almeida. It was only fitting that the first goal came from a defensive mis-communication, as Jason Mills was able to slip through, take a well-weighted pass, and slot the ball home past Sidhu to give ANB Futbol a 1-0 lead in the twenty-fourth minute.
Clippers answered in a most unorthodox manner, as Almeida put in another cross for Timothy Campos, but ANB's Harbinder Jawanda accidentally turned it into his own goal to tie the game at 1-1 after twenty-six minutes of play.
The two goals ninety seconds apart sparked the game to life as both teams began to play fast-paced counter-attacking football, each attack absorbed by strong defensive play from centre backs on either team. The speedy pace and hard tackles eventually led to a small confrontation in the centre circle, after the Clippers' Dylan Kirk tackled Jason Mills very hard for a foul, one which referee Pierre Acouri had to use his man management skills to calm.
As the half approached, players from both teams put on displays of skill as Jashua Mills skated through the Clippers' defense, and Tommy Hong turned three ANB defenders in circles before losing the ball over the touch line for a throw.
The first caution of the game was given to Clippers' Dylan Bams in the 44th minute for a reckless foul. That play led to a good advantage for ANB, followed by an excellent chance at the other end for the Clippers, but halftime came with the game deadlocked at 1-1.
Both teams made changes at half, with Clippers replacing Almeida with Greg Simmons in a like-for-like switch, and ANB changing their goalkeeper, bringing Haydon Armstrong in. They also switched Lucas Gesualdi off for Mario Tenorio. Tenorio slotted in up front, pushing Anthony Smith into the backfield. With the new players in place, the game continued at a high pace, leading to an early caution to Clippers' centre-back, Robert Lannan, in the fiftieth minute for a tactical foul against Jason Mills.
Moments later an indirect free kick was given at the ANB end for dangerous play. The cross flew in and was headed away from goal, but fell to the feet of Kingston's Hong, who made no mistake from ten yards, blasting the ball past a helpless Armstrong to give Clippers the 2-1 lead in the fifty-fifth minute.
As Clippers started to control the play, ANB began playing an ineffective long ball game. Armstrong was forced into a pair of diving stops on shots from Simmons and Bams, keeping his team in the match. A caution to Anthony Smith in the seventieth minute for his foul on Simmons led Clippers to make another change, bringing Joel Zelt on for Luke Phye, right after his final contribution, a forty-yard strike off the bar. Five minutes later, Kirk was withdrawn for the third U17 player, Jeremy McBride, in the centre of defense.
These changes disrupted Clippers enough that ANB was able to apply some concentrated pressure, but they were unable to create any good chances in the final third of play. Their pressure faltered as they were forced into a final change as Calder left with a charley horse, replaced by Sheldon Lucas in the eighty-fifth minute. Clippers made their final change, bringing on Jonathan Zelt for Timothy Campos.
ANB had one final chance as Jason Mills strolled through the young Clippers' defense, but couldn't get his shot on target, and the final whistle blew to give Clippers the 2-1 win.
ANB coach Bassam Naim was disappointed that they were unable to play their style of game, but promised that Sunday's rematch would see more of that. He also noted that his team was beginning to gel and that playing their own game would see fewer mistakes.
On the other bench, Eveleigh was very proud of the character win and very pleased to show the depth of the club as the three OYSL players all made strong contributions. Their OYSL coach, Mark Stanley, assisted with bench duties and pointed out that the League1 Ontario team gave his players something to strive for, and playing in this environment was an excellent learning tool.