Sigma FC were held to a 2-2 draw in London on Friday night, giving Oakville Blue Devils the greatest chance at celebration as the result put Oakville side in the driver's seat at the top of the men's west division.
"I think we were very good in the first half," said Sigma head coach, Bobby Smyrniotis.
"It's a very good opponent and nothing against them but I thought it could have been four or five to nil very early on. When you don't take your opportunities early in a game to kill off a game like this, it can come back to bite you."
Kadell Thomas (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
Sigma got off to a strong start with right sided forward Kadell Thomas (9') finding space behind the FC London wingbacks in a 3-5-2 formation, dribbling into the box and slamming his finish past London keeper Connor Dalton.
"First of all we don't even care about early goals anymore," said FC London assistant coach, Eddie Schmidt.
"So many times we went one down in the last games, and as well with the U21 team, and I think the guys have a good enough mental state that they don't care too much about going one down."
"Tactically we also know that Sigma is very good on the wings and we were vulnerable on the wings over the last couple weeks so it was a logical approach for them to play in behind us on the wings and we didn't want to give them that space," he added.
"We also wanted to create space for ourselves for counter-attacks and in between their lines. They have the problem of not being very well connected through the back four and what is in front of this, and this is what you can exploit. Also the space between the defenders, and at times we did this perfectly well."
Connor Dalton (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
It was the hosts that would dig deep and show character, putting together some tidy attacking patterns that resulted in an Elvir Gigolaj (44') leveller just before the half-time whistle. Keeper Dalton also gave his side a huge lift when he brilliantly saved a penalty from Sigma's Giuliano Frano.
"It was a wild game in the end and especially I want to say how proud I am of our goalkeeper Connor," said Schmidt. "What a great job he did. If he didn't save that penalty, and how he saved it... it would have been 2-0 for them and then we probably would have lost the game 5-0 because then Sigma would always have space to counter as we would be forced to go further up."
London also emerged for the second half looking the more passionate of the two sides, and were rewarded through a Mohammed Nafar (53') strike that put the hosts up by one and sent the home crowd into early celebrations.
But Sigma were not about to let their season slip away, and an easy David Velastegui (75') finish courtesy of a ball fumbled by London's Dalton - combined with a dismissal to London goalscorer Gigolaj - appeared to hand the visitors from Mississauga a breakthrough. However, it was all for nought as the London defence would not be breached again.
David Velastegui (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
"It obviously wasn't the result that we want," said Smyrniotis. "We wanted a win today to keep pace with the top but it is what it is at the end of the day. It was a good opponent, it was a good game, and we'll take the point and keep going."
"For us, to be honest, the result doesn't change anything," he added. "We just have to go out and win our games."
"We need help on the other end as well, and we hope that London here against Oakville in their upcoming game can do us the favour but we can only take care of our business. Five games to go and I think we can take care of it. This one was important for us but we go at each game one game at a time and we don't look at what our opponent does. If they falter then that will be good for us."
FC London will next play North Mississauga Panthers on September 16 at Hershey Centre, Mississauga.
Sigma FC will next play Pro Stars FC on September 16 at Hershey Centre, Mississauga.