Sigma FC were able to regain a slim lead at the top of the League1 Ontario western division after a 2-1 matchweek twenty win over rivals North Mississauga Panthers.
Two quick goals from Jordan Kalonji (25’) and Justin Stoddart (29’) were the difference for Sigma, as they now sit one point ahead of FC London for first in the west.
Even though this match was a derby between Sigma and North Mississauga, who share the Hershey Centre fields for home games, both coaches mentioned after the match that they focused more on the result, and less on what their opponent would do.
"Not so much the opponent [today], but the period of the season we are in," said Sigma FC coach Bobby Smyrniotis.
"We knew that if we can get a win today, it keeps us going forward and keeps pace with London."
The match didn't quite start off the way Sigma would've liked. North Mississauga had the bulk of possession and threatened to take the lead more often than the home side.
Michael Krzeminski (14') was able to give his North Mississauga side the lead in the off a nice cross that found him right in the six yard box. It was his third goal in nine games.
Things then changed for the Panthers, as Sigma was able to push the ball forward and break free on goal. Kalonji slotted home his first 2016 League1 Ontario goal, which seemed a carbon copy of Krzeminski's finish.
A penalty kick for Stoddart was ultimately the difference, and Sigma now have two games left to get maximum points and hope their lead atop the west division remains intact.
Sigma head coach Bobby Smyrniotis mentioned after the match that this was a different team than he has usually fielded, but was happy with their performance.
"We are a much different team than we were in the middle of the year. We said that in certain points there would be some challenges... but [we said] to keep your heads because we know we need eleven players playing on the field."
"In the first half, we had very good flow to our game. A lot of good ball movement, working the ball east to west, which is something we wanted these guys to do more of."
"I think the guys did well, and within 20 minutes we had two goals in response."
Smyrniotis also mentioned that he was fortunate to have a player like Manvir Brar in his side, considering he started a younger team compared to North Mississauga.
"I think Manvir is very important for us. He was our most experienced guy on the field today. He is somebody we really need... he kind of keeps everything together."
The Sigma FC coach also praised goalscorer Jordan Kalonji after he scored his first goal of the season and said he looked to have found his form. Kalonji has missed some time due to an injury.
As for North Mississauga, their title hopes look to be over. A loss today meant they have three games left to grab a max of nine points, and are nine points behind leaders' Sigma.
Head coach Rick Titus thought that his side would be able to compete with the young Sigma squad, but then Sigma's youth put in solid performances.
"We came into this match a little bit over confident because a lot of the Sigma players that were here in the beginning of the season were not here today," said Titus.
"Sometimes when you do that, if you are not playing in the right manner and not doing the little things that help you win… this is the result you are going to get."
Titus did single out veteran players Shawn Brown and Kevin Dhillon for their leadership, mentioning that their approach was positive and that they were trying their best to ensure the team was pushing on.
Sigma will now need to win their next match versus Pro Stars, and see FC London gain no more than four points in their remaining match pattern against Durham United FA, Toronto FC Academy and Sanjaxx Lions, to set up an intriguing west division title-decider in their final match against London on Sunday, Oct. 2.