Photo: Martin Bazyl
The 2015 League1 Ontario champs Oakville Blue Devils have had a difficult start to 2016, but pulled out a 2-1 win at the death over a determined Toronto FC Academy side courtesy of a Blake Jones (89') free kick.
"I thought today, for the first time all season we actually deserved those three points," said Oakville head coach, Duncan Wilde.
"I took a gamble and played the captain (McNamara) in the last 20 minutes, even though he was sick, and I think that made a huge difference," he added.
"He got our shape and organization and we didn’t look like conceding after that, just to get a winner. Getting goals is something we work on all the time, so we are pleased."
"I thought we showed well of ourselves," said Toronto FC head coach, Stuart Neely. "It’s a good young team and they’re going to develop and we’re trying to put them through to the pro pathway and make sure there are one or two players that can be seen at all times."
Kota Sakurai (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
The Blue Devils were forced to come back in the second half after a sluggish start left room for the young academy team to find opportunities. The Junior Reds' Mirza Custovic (45') finished off a nice move just before the interval after threatening with several dangerous runs earlier in the half.
The fortitude of Oakville can never be counted out, and the home side shuffled the deck tactically and produced a memorable finish for the supporters at Sheridan College.
"As a staff we knew what was going to happen in the second half," said Stuart Neely. "They came out with a little bit more vigor, a little more sense of urgency. We didn’t take care of our responsibilities well and our defending."
"We started to panic a little bit as a young group instead of being composed and staying with our defensive block and playing a passing game. It got away from us."
Mirza Custovic (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
The current holder of the League1 Golden Boot, Felipe Vilela (65') was the first to strike, sinking a penalty just after the half-hour mark to level the score.
"We decided in the second to put our second striker in and get a little bit forward quicker and that gave the young defenders with TFC confusion because we have some good size and pace up there," explained Wilde.
Oakville utilized their size, strength and experience to keep the young Toronto FC Academy side under pressure, eventually creating another free-kick scenario late in the match. Blake Jones (89') strode up and made no mistake, putting the finish right on the money and the three points firmly in Oakville's column.
Felipe Vilela (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
"I was very impressed with those young TFC players," concluded Wilde. "Individually there’s some really good talent and they’ll do what they did last year - gel in the second half of the season, have an effect on the lead and take points off contending teams."
"It’s a nice looking team and we’re just pleased and happy to have taken the result.”
After disappointing losses in the first round of the L1 Cup, both teams will move on to matchweek six in the league and look to improve their standing.
Oakville go away to joint-leaders in the western division, Sigma FC at Hershey Centre 1, Mississauga on June 4 (4 p.m.).
Toronto FC Academy is also away for matchweek six, going to Victoria Park, Brampton on June 4 (7 p.m.) to play Pro Stars FC.
Blake Jones (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
Photo: Martin Bazyl