Final Score: Cavalry FC 2-1 Valour FC Goalscorers: Myer Bevan 84', Elijah Adekugbe 90+2' ; Stefan Cebara 88' Game of the 2022 season: 27 CPL match: 278​

Match in a minute or less

In just over six minutes, what was an otherwise uneventful match between Valour FC and Cavalry at Spruce Meadows turned into a barn burner. When the dust settled, it was Cavalry who emerged with their second home victory of the season 2-1. Myer Bevan finally put the hosts ahead in the 84th minute off the rebound of a penalty kick. However, his effort was matched four minutes later as Stefan Cabara got on the end of a well-worked set-piece to tie the game at one. It looked like Cavalry were headed for a second straight draw, but in stoppage time Elijah Adekugbe played hero to bump the Alberta side up into second in the table.

Three Observations

Cavalry once again provides late drama​

"We talked about this during the offseason, play to the effing whistle," said Tommy Wheeldon Jr after the match with a smirk. His club has taken that to new heights in recent weeks. Last week Daan Klomp earned Cavalry an away point at Wanderers' Ground with a later header off a free-kick, and a week later they went one (or technically two if we are talking points) better. Cavalry easily could have accepted their fate when all their second-half hard work was undone four minutes after they finally scored by a Valour equalizer. Instead, they dug deep, created a moment of chaos in the Valour box and substitute Adekugbe was on hand to slot home the winner. That is now three extra points in the last two weeks that Cavalry can attribute to goals after 90 minutes. "In my whole time here that has been something that has been a calling card of our team," said Adekugbe. "I think we kind of have this 'never give up, never say die' mentality. Especially at home with our fans cheering us on in the 95th minute." It was definitely a deserved goal for Cavalry, who were on the front foot for most of the second half. After most stats were fairly even through the first 45 minutes, the Cavs dominated the second 45 with 21 touches in Valour box, 4 shots on target and 66.7% of the ball. They also won possession six times in the final third, where Valour often looked trapped. "Full credit to Cavalry, they came out second half and pinned us back for most of the [half]," said Fordyce.

Another week, another hero for Cavalry​

Last week it was Klomp. This week it was Adekugbe. It seems like every week, through tough injury news and absences new players for Cavalry step up and deliver big performances. Cavalry was again forced to make late adjustments against Valour when David Norman Jr. and Aribim Pepple were forced out of the side due to illness. But this week provided another storybook moment for the club, as Adekugbe scored his first goal since the 2020 Island Games after missing the entire 2021 season with a torn Achilles tendon during preseason. "Next man up, Elijah's had a long time out," said Wheeldon Jr. later adding, "couldn't have happened to a better person for what he's been through, and that just shows the club culture." It was a special moment for Adekugbe, the rewards for all the work he has put in to get back out on the pitch. "Man I just like blacked out when I scored I can't even lie," said Adekugbe. "Just so many emotions came over me. It has been such a long wait. I feel like the last 18 months have tested me so much, and just to have that moment after everything that means the world to me." The goal was made possible by yet another Cavalry player who deserves mention, substitute Charlie Trafford instantly provided the spark that the hosts needed. "Shoutout the whole roster that we have," said Adekugbe. "I think that it is a team where throughout the season you are going to see guys have many big different moments. Charlie had one today but with the depth we have, and the roster we have and the quality we have, I think there are going to be a lot of big moments for a lot of players this year". Trafford won the penalty that ultimately led to the first Cavalry goal, and it was his work down the left flank that created the opportunity for Adekugbe to score his winner. "Charlie is a big presence, he gets about the pitch very well, he changed the outcome," said Tommy Wheeldon Jr. "He did the same against Halifax last week and I'm sure I'll be getting a knock on the door about when he returns to the starting lineup but these are the problems we want to have."

Valour backline does an excellent job of keeping Cavalry to the outside for most of the match​

Before we talk about the Valour backline, a slight aside. While Bevan scored on the rebound, Jonathan Sirois has now stopped five of the six penalties he has faced in Canadian Premier League action. It is a stat that does not fully fit into the narrative of the overall game but is still too absurd not to mention. Now we continue... Coming into today's match one of the biggest questions was how a Valour backline, which while it has posted two straight clean sheets in the league has also given up a lot of chances, would deal with a red-hot Cavalry attack. For most of the 90, they answered with an impressive defensive effort, one where especially in the opening half they limited the host's chances by clogging up the middle of their defensive third and keeping the opposition to the outside. When Cavalry was able to get the ball into the box, their players were often converged on by multiple Valour players and unable to create anything of substance. Captain Daryl Fordyce and Diego Gutiérrez, in particular, did an excellent job of screening the back four and limiting the amount of time Cavs' striker Myer Bevan had on the ball (just 29 touches during the match). "They are experienced players, they understood that it was important to defend that space," said Phillip Dos Santos. "The way Cavalry just pushes their two midfielders, [Ali] Musse and [Victor] Loturi in support to their forwards it is important that we get that coverage and our midfielders playing close to the centre-backs, especially for second balls. I think they did that well." Unfortunately, as Phil Dos Santos later mentioned, this is a game of plays and you have to keep making the next one. Gutiérrez's performance will largely be remembered for the missed pass followed by the penalty he conceded to Bevan. But it was an otherwise outstanding match from the defensive midfielder, who controlled the centre of the park with 10 duels won, won possession back 11 times and had two interceptions. He also helped to set up Valour's late equalizer, which looked to give his side a hard-earned point. But after tirelessly defending for 90 plus minutes, they switched off in injury time. "We've just got to learn from it," said Fordyce after the match. "A little bit more experience just to clear the ball and take the point, but it wasn't to be." Player of the Match

Bradley Vliet, Cavalry FC There is an argument to be made that Vliet shouldn't have played the entire match after a brutal first-half challenge on William Akio. There's also an argument to be made that the fullback was the best player on the park, forcing a great save out of Jonathan Sirois with a low-driven first-half shot, winning 2 interceptions, 8 duals, and completing two dribbles.

What’s next?

Cavalry will remain at Spruce Meadows for arguably their biggest game of the year to date as MLS's Vancouver Whitecaps come to visit in the Canadian Championship on Wednesday, May 25 (9:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. MT). Cavalry famously became the first CPL side to beat MLS opposition back in the 2019 tournament and will be hoping history repeats itself. Valour, meanwhile, will make their second trip of the season to Starlight Stadium to take on league-leaders Pacific FC on Saturday, May 28 (7:00 p.m. ET/4:00 p.m. PT). 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.

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