Final Score: Atlético Ottawa 1-0 HFX Wanderers Goalscorers: Shaw 81' Game of the 2022 season: 6 CPL match: 257
Match in a Minute or Less:For the second week in a row, a late goal from an Atlético Ottawa striker earned his side a 1-0 victory and sent their home fans happy. This time it was Malcolm Shaw's turn to be the hero, heading home a cross from Miguel Acosta in the 81st minute to win the match 1-0. Ottawa had the majority of the strong scoring chances throughout the match, hitting the target on a couple of occasions, but Christian Oxner made some impressive stops in the Halifax goal, including a diving stop to deny another header from Shaw earlier in the match. His counterpart Nathan Ingham saved his team in the 52nd minute, making a double save to deny efforts from Sam Salter and Joao Morelli from close range. Ottawa's perfect record remains intact with a second consecutive clean sheet victory, while HFX fall to 1-0-1 after two matches.
Ottawa keep perfect record intact with another clean sheetFor the first time in club history, Atlético Ottawa has won back-to-back games in the CPL, and it's also the first time they've kept consecutive clean sheets. Finishing at the bottom of the table in 2021 wasn't necessarily a fair reflection of how they played in some matches, as they often succumbed to pressure put on themselves, and gave up a lot of poor goals and penalties. In the offseason they've added some new pieces to their roster, players of better quality from a season ago, and head coach Carlos Gonzalez has them drilled well to prepare for that pressure, but also to play on the front foot and be the ones to dictate play. Many of Halifax's chances came from outside the box as a result of Ottawa being tough to break down, but in the occasion that there was a chance from close range -- like the chances for Salter and Morelli early in the second half -- the calmness of Nathan Ingham was there to deal with it. "We have to be proud of it, the reality is that I felt that the players didn't know the feeling of winning two games in a row," said Gonzalez after the match. "Mentally we have to work on this. Most of the players are new but we still have this ghost from last season, and we have to work on the mentality so they think with a winning mentality and they have to create the circumstances so that the team wins each week. "Still, we have a lot of work to do. We know that the team has to improve in some moments of the game, and we will work for it, but a victory always gives you a push. They currently sit at the top of the table through two matches, and will look to build on it against Valour FC next weekend, again at home at TD Place.
Morelli not always getting the service required to create chances from open playThere were a lot of moments during Saturday's match where Wanderers striker Joao Morelli seemed to be trying to do everything on his own. Playing in the false nine/ free roaming role that he played against York, he was often dropping deeper to receive the ball in the middle of the park, before pushing forward with it himself instead, and it often led to shots from outside the area. The Brazilian took six of his team's eight shots, and four of them were from distance. Four of those six were also on target, including one from the edge of the six yard box that he tried to shoot under the rushing Nathan Ingham, but the Ottawa goalkeeper was able to turn it away. He was joined in attack by Sam Salter and Cory Bent, who didn't enjoy the same attacking opportunities that they did against York, often closed down by Max Tissot or Miguel Acosta on the two wings, or by Ottawa's central midfielders Ollie Bassett and Ben McKendry if they tried to go through the middle. There was an emphasis on a high press from Ottawa, who were stingy defensively all afternoon. It was a frustrating afternoon for the reigning Player of the Year winner, and to make matters worse, Morelli got hurt toward the end of the match, appearing to injure his knee and needing to be taken off the pitch on a stretcher. Hart had no immediate updates on Morelli after the match, only that it "doesn't look good" and that "the players are all in the dressing room worried" for their teammate.With Akeem Garcia already out injured, anything major to Morelli would be a major blow, but Hart rightfully pointed out that his health is the priority after the match rather than worrying about how they'd play without him.
Ottawa make more happen out wideA criticism from Ottawa head coach Carlos Gonzalez after their first game of the season against Cavalry was that Ballou Tabla and Maxim Tissot weren't receiving the ball enough to have a big impact on the attack. They took a step forward in that regard on Saturday, with those same two players more involved and making things happen. Tissot in particular was up and down the flank a lot, sometimes cutting inside a bit to make things happen more centrally. He combined well with left winger Zach Verhoven, and on a couple of occasions switched the ball to the other side of the park for Tabla or Miguel Acosta on the right, quickly creating space to attack down the opposite flank instead. That was evident on the goal, with Tissot breaking out from his own half before switching the ball to Miguel Acosta, who crossed the ball onto Shaw's head. "It started off from a broken play where we won the ball, Sissoko played it down the line, and it came to me," Tissot recalled. "I skipped a couple of challenges and was able to play it to Miguel, who played a wonderful ball into the box, and a wonderful finish by Malcolm. "It didn't start in a classic building situation but we made the most of it and I think that's a credit to our team this year." His head coach was happy with the effort from his wingbacks as well. It was a tactical game, they had a clear plan to play in the inside channel and put a lot of players there, and we had the clear idea that we wanted to play in the outside channels and use the outside channels to create superiorities," said Gonzalez after the match. "At the end of the day the result was for us, so we did a little bit more to win the game. "The wingers, the wingbacks, are players that have to be very important in our attack, but some of them have not played for a long time in that position, and they're starting to understand the demands of that position. I think that they are doing a great job, Max is understanding perfectly what we want -- he created lots of danger in the first half with a lot of situations 2v1 with Verhoven. Ballou has his moments during the game, I felt that today that he was better than the last game, that he has done one step forward. We have to continue with this and improve them so that they're more comfortable and they have clear ideas of what we want."
CanPL.ca Player of the MatchNathan Ingham, Atlético Ottawa After joining the club from York United in the offseason, Nathan Ingham has been fantastic for Atlético Ottawa, and made five saves on Saturday for his second consecutive clean sheet.
What’s next?Atlético Ottawa close out a three-game homestand against Valour FC on Sunday, April 24 (3 pm ET/ 2 pm CT) at TD Place. Halifax play one more game in their season-opening road trip, travelling to the other coast to take on Pacific FC at Starlight Stadium (4 pm PT/8 pm AT). Watch all matches live on OneSoccer. In addition to its website and app, OneSoccer is now available on TELUS channel 980 and on Fubo TV. Call your local cable provider to ask for OneSoccer today.