In what turned out to be one of their best performances playing at the York Lions Stadium so far this season, the Nine Stripes managed to get a very important 2-1 victory against Valour FC on Sunday.
Despite United’s constant pressure from the very beginning, it was the Winnipeg side who managed to open the score during the first half thanks to Brett Levis, however, a brace from striker Lowell Wright just after the break gave York the much-needed win.
These three points allow the home team to stretch their advantage over Valour and HFX Wanderers in the fight for the last playoff spot, something coach Jimmy Brennan feels happy about.
“It was important to get a positive result today,” said Brennan, during a post-match presser. “The players knew that this was the chance to get ourselves six points ahead of Valour and four points ahead of Halifax.”
The victory also means a positive psychological impact for a squad that lost 4-0 to Toronto FC in the quarter finals of the Canadian Championship on Wednesday night.
“This is a very resilient group,” said the gaffer. “It was a tough loss against TFC, but they were able to show up today and play for 90 plus minutes with great attitude and display some really good soccer.”
York United had a tremendous start to the game, comfortably setting on the Valour side of the pitch, and generating chances with ease.
With shots being constantly blocked by the away defenders and the goalkeeper, it was a real shock for everyone at the venue when midfielder Brett Levis found a bit of space inside of United’s box to connect with William Akio, who bounced back the ball immediately to Levis, allowing him to beat Nathan Ingham.
Being 1-0 down, York pushed their lines forward guided by Alvaro Rivero, who ended up having three clear chances before the referee ended the first 45 minutes.
Pressure continued during the second half, and it was only a matter of 10 minutes before Michael Petrasso and Diyaeddine Abzi make a nice play on the left side of the pitch that left youngster Lowell Wright in front of goal to score the momentary tie.
Coach Brennan reacted quickly after the draw, calling Sebastian Gutierrez and Cedric Toussant to refresh the team.
It was the Colombian midfielder who forced the error of Valour’s defence in their own box, which resulted in Petrasso assisting Wright for his second of the game. The 18-year-old now has four goals this season despite not being part of the starting XI in most matches.
“During halftime we talked about how our final third needed to be better,” said the striker. “We had the chances in the first half, but they didn’t go in, so we really focused on putting the ball on the back of the net for the second half.”
United comfortably kept control of the game until the 80-minute mark, when Valour went all out attack and generated clear chances to tie the game. Ingham reacted well every time he was tested.
NOTES: The goal conceded by York United in this game put an end to Ingham’s clean sheet streak of three games … The Nine Stripes will now have an entire week to prepare for their next game, which will be against HFX Wanderers on Oct. 3, at the York Lions Stadium.