League1 Ontario newcomers Alliance United FC secured their place in the playoffs for the 2018 League1 Ontario Championship with a 1-0 victory over Sanjaxx Lions on Sunday.
Entering the match, only a win at home would be enough for the Lions to leapfrog Alliance United for the final playoff position.
Instead it was Alliance who came out on the front foot at Monarch Park Stadium, when Bogdan Poliakhov spotted Sanjaxx keeper Tayjon Campbell off his line in the 13th minute and was able to fire a long-range effort that forced Campbell into the first big save of the match.
Off the ensuing corner it was Connor McFall fo find the ball at the edge of the area and nearly made it 1-0, but the Alliance defender would send a thunderbolt of a shot whiskers over the bar.
Alliance should have taken the lead when Poliakhov (30') latched on to a cross four yards from goal and directed it on target, but the Sanjaxx defender somehow managed to deflect it over for a corner.
Ten minutes later, Poliakhov (40') would eventually find the net and the lone goal of the match, when he beat his marker down the right flank and finished into the bottom left corner.
To start the second half, Sanjaxx brought on target man Dieu Merci Yuma, who picked up three goals in his previous two matches before the encounter, and the striker would cause the away side some problems.
Four minutes into the half, Yuma was played through the Alliance back-line but his effort rattled the outside of the post to the relief of the away side.
Yuma was again causing problems ten minutes later, the striker through on goal again and would have scored if not for Alliance keeper Mark Rogal coming up with a massive save.
In the 64th minute it was Yuma to play provider, feeding substitute Tajani Fairclough, who probably should have equalized but sent his effort wide.
Sanjaxx veteran Stefan Nikolic had a great opportunity to score fifteen minutes from the final whistle after a well-worked play from the home side, but Rogal once again would come up huge with the save.
A disciplined Alliance back-line held firm in the late stages to collect the 1-0 victory, securing post-season play.
Sanjaxx will now begin preparation for the 2019 season after finishing 2018 on 18 points (five wins, eight loses, three draws) and missing out on the post-season on the final match-day.
Alliance will prepare for their first playoff encounter with a visit to regular season champions, FC London.
Catch the action on September 28 (8:30 p.m.) at the London Marconi Club Stadium, London.