Toronto FC Academy may have thought they had their first win all wrapped up after Marko Mandekic (52') put the hosts 2-1 up, but a late dismissal to teammate Ethan Beckford (76') and a tenacious Windsor Stars side made the late going difficult for the hosts.
Kota Sakurai (15') had given the Junior Reds an early lead, only for Windsor's Stefan Milidrag (36') to cancel it out before the interval.
"The exact details of the half-time speech will remain quiet, but we certainly challenged the players to match the presence of the Windsor players," said Toronto FC Academy head coach, Stuart Neely.
"We want them to play fast free-flowing football and they accepted the challenges laid out in front of them from a defensive perspective. I think they did all of that in the second half."
Kota Sakurai (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
TFCA demonstrated some exceptionally fast combination play and one-touch patterns, but Windsor were determined not to be undone and made the Reds earn every attacking inch.
Beckford's dismissal - putting the younger and less experienced TFCA side down a man - signalled an increase in physicality as the Stars sought to impose their influence.
"I don't think that was the intent, but it did turn out that way," said Windsor coach, David Rimbert. "I think the younger guys at TFC are pretty good technically so things may have become a bit more physical, but I think when they went down a man that's what caused us to assert ourselves more."
"They were just holding on and our guys were just trying to overpower them, which didn't work. To their credit, the TFC players are pretty good players. The future is bright for TFC I think."
Stefan Milidrag (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
"[Windsor] are strong boys, they play with heart, and they play like all teams coming to Kia Training Grounds looking for a result," added Neely. "They were much stronger than us in the first half and we knew we were going to have to match that in the second half."
"We knew it was going to be a feisty affair, it usually is when we play Windsor, but overall we challenged the players with specific tasks, and they stuck to the gameplan.
With the win, TFCA take their first three points of the season and move to fourth place in the western division. Windsor's loss is their first of the season, and leaves the southern Ontario club in third position in the west.
Photo: Martin Bazyl