It was an entertaining back and forth battle between Aurora FC and Oakville Blue Devils at St. Maximillion Kolbe H.S., Aurora on Matchweek 16, with both sides trading goals until the last minutes of play, but in the end the Devils ran out 3-2 winners and preserved their position as joint-leaders of the west division.
"All credit to Aurora, they came right at us and although I thought we gifted them one of the goals they defended well, worked hard and I bet that was one of the most exciting games of the season for them," said Oakville head coach, Duncan Wilde.
"We played with two up top early in the match so we were trying to release them," he explained.
"It's a narrow and short field so we just wanted to get it in behind a little bit quicker. In the second half the wind died down a bit and the plan became to run the ball on the ground a little bit more, and I think that paid off for us."
Joren Ramsey-Marshall (47') and Jared Agyemang (57') got goals for a determined and well-organized Aurora side, but not without Oakville's Anthony Novak (52', 88') splitting the difference and later cropping up for the late winner.
"We've been asking Anthony to give us a little bit more in these past couple weeks and I thought he did that tonight," said Wilde.
"He scored big goals at big times and when you are mounting a challenge for the top of the league, you need your big players to produce for you - that is what he did tonight. We were very pleased for him."
Connor McNamara (84') became a target of choice late in the match due to his aerial prowess, and duly rewarded the confidence with an equalizer minutes before Novak's winner.
"It was individual errors," said Aurora head coach, Derek O'Keeffe.
"We knew that if we were in the lead they would send [Connor McNamara] forward, that was an expectation at half-time, and play long balls, which they did in the end. Again it was individual errors and lapses in concentration."
"For the third goal, I think our keeper knows himself that it was a very bad mistake he made, but that is football unfortunately. We all lose together and although it is unfortunate, we just move forward."
"We knew they were a big, strong, team who like to play direct, which works - it's a strategy, a long ball strategy," he added.
"So we knew that if we could clear those balls and catch them on the counter we could score a few goals, which we did so I'm very happy with that part of the game."
Aurora FC will next play OSU Force on August 19 at Terry Fox South, Ottawa.
Oakville Blue Devils will next play Windsor TFC on August 20 at Sheridan College, Oakville.