Final Score: Valour FC 0-0 Cavalry FC Goalscorers: None Game of the 2021 season: 84 CPL match: 219

Match in a minute or less

Cavalry FC remained undefeated against Valour FC on Tuesday night as they played out a gripping 0-0 draw at IG Field, as Phillip Dos Santos continues to look for his first win as Valour coach (though he now has a point in two straight). Both sides had their share of chances -- the shots being 21-14 for Cavalry -- but neither goalkeeper would budge as nobody seemed able to put the ball in the back of the net.

Three Observations

Both sides defend well in 'an eventful 0-0'​

Despite this game ending scoreless, the managers of both teams were full of praise postmatch for the evening's entertainment value. "I thought it was a cracking game, it was one of them that actually could've been a 4-4 versus a 0-0 with the chances," Cavalry coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. said. "Both teams defended well but once they came out we readjusted and then we seemed to pin them. I think the only thing that was missing for us was that final pass, the final touch because the number of shots we had, I think I just read we had 21 shots. Overall it was just missing that final edge." Certainly, each team tested the other's goalkeeping -- Marco Carducci and Jonathan Sirois were called into action a handful of times to make excellent reflex saves to cut off the most dangerous chances. Like other meetings between these teams, it was an intense affair, with plenty of fouls all over the pitch and some hard tackles otherwise, and definitely a hard-fought contest between teams that certainly did not want to lose to one another. Once again, Valour continued to improve under Phillip Dos Santos, who was, like Wheeldon, quite proud of his team's showing after the game -- his fourth in charge of the club. He explained that, considering Cavalry are one of the top sides in the CPL (and have been for three years, really), he was pleased to see Valour go blow-for-blow with them. "This game could've gone both sides," Dos Santos said. "I think it's important to say that, when I came in, for me it was always to gauge with the top -- who are the top teams and how close can we get to them -- and I felt that today we were up there with them. I see a team that is ambitious, I see a team that is committed to what they're asked, I see a team that wants to win, it's not by lack of desire. I think it was a good game for the fans tonight, it was an eventful 0-0, so I think that the people that were here at the stadium are going to leave happy with that."

Fisk, Camargo create from free-roaming roles​

On paper, Cavalry's attacking setup in this game was a kind of 3-4-2-1, with Anthony Novak up top and usual wingers Sergio Camargo and Ben Fisk lining up together just behind. In reality, though, Camargo and Fisk were rarely contained to any kind of rigid position. With two wingbacks in José Escalante and Mo Farsi that offer such attacking upside, it made a lot of sense for Cavalry to keep their front three quite narrow to allow for overlaps. Camargo combined extremely well with Farsi down the right side, occasionally drifting wider to pull his marker out and create an inside lane for Farsi to run or pass through. Fisk typically dropped a lot deeper than Camargo, such that Cavalry's formation sometimes looked like a 3-5-1-1 with him splitting the space between Nik Ledgerwood and Victor Loturi, acting as the main nerve centre for attacks up the middle. The Cavs didn't have quite as much success in that space with Valour's double pivot holding the centre quite well, but Fisk was keen to go looking for the ball wherever he could. Coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. opted to change things up a little at halftime, bringing Joe Di Chiara -- a natural central midfielder -- off the bench in favour of Camargo, who was feeling some tightness. "Joe gives us a presence. Valour are a physical side, you see that with a number of fouls, I think about three more of our guys got facial injuries today -- Jose Escalante had his cheek split open, Daan Klomp had his eye cut open, I think there was one more in that mix as well. So Joe gives us a physical presence. He's very sticky; he almost scored as well, he had a half chance, but it gives us a different outlook, and as things start to mix up you need that presence in this league because it's a physical league." He added: "Sergio was getting into some great areas, we'd love for him to stay on, but we're also managing for the season, because it's not about finishing in first place in this league, it's about finishing in the top four and then having all your big guns ready for the final two games."

Set-pieces go unfinished at both ends​

Both Cavalry and Valour have proven this year that they can strike dangerously from dead-ball situations. The Cavs have scored some excellent goals in the past from corners and free kicks -- including Daan Klomp's winner last week in Edmonton -- and Valour have perhaps the best delivery specialist in the CPL in Rafael Galhardo. The two teams each had their fair share of opportunities, with six corners for Cavalry and seven for Valour, plus a handful of free kicks around the top of the box in either end, but neither side was able to get the best out of those chances -- a couple of Galhardo's deliveries found dangerous areas, but his teammates weren't able to bury them. Ultimately, the story of the whole game might be missed opportunities -- set-pieces or otherwise -- with 35 total shots in the game (10 of them on target); both managers lamented their team's finishing and their ability to create the most dangerous chances. Still, those corners and free kicks are often a strength for both sides, so they'd like to start finishing them more consistently soon. The other side of this coin, of course, is that both sides defended the set-pieces very well. Dead-ball routines are often straight off the training pitch; they're one of the things coaches focus on heavily as a part of the game they can control a little more -- however, with Phillip Dos Santos only just taking over the Valour job, he conceded he hasn't quite had enough time to fully implement his principles for those. "We're not as far ahead as I wanted to but it's normal, we don't train a lot; we've recovered more than we've trained and sometimes you're working more with players who need to have a different type of load so you're not always working those situations," Dos Santos explained. "The first part of our work was more related to the defensive organization, you probably noticed that we're now in both situations fully zonal so of course we highlighted that, and now we'll have days to focus on the offensive organization. We covered the offensive set plays and the offensive corner kicks this week, but everything that happened from the wide areas on free kicks where we had the core of our chances were just related to a great distribution from Rafa Galhardo, and we know how good he can be on those balls... You can do everything on the training pitch, but if the delivery isn't good and if players don't win their battles and find their spaces you won't score." Player of the Match

Rodrigo Reyes, Valour FC The centre-back was a busy man in the middle for Valour in this game, with six tackles, two interceptions, and four blocks (all team highs). He was nearly unbeatable on the ground or in the air, and his pressure helped keep 12 of the Cavs' 21 shots outside the box.

What’s next?

Valour will remain at home for the next week, with their next match coming on Monday, October 11 when they host Forge FC (3 pm ET/2 pm CT). Cavalry will finally get to return home as well, as they head back to Spruce Meadows this Saturday, October 9 to lift the Wild Rose Cup in an Al Classico battle with FC Edmonton (4 pm ET/2 pm MT). Watch all matches live on OneSoccer.

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