Final Score: Valour FC 2-0 HFX Wanderers FC Goalscorers: Andrew Jean-Baptiste (20'), William Akio (89') Game of the 2021 season: 5 CPL match: 140
Match in a minute or lessIn a wide-open entertaining match at IG Field, Valour FC made it two wins from two to start the new season thanks to a headed goal in the 20th minute from Andrew Jean-Baptiste and a late strike from William Akio, his first professional goal, to leave HFX Wanderers once again on the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline. Two goals made the difference but Valour showed real spirit and resilience to keep another clean sheet and win back-to-back matches for the first time in club history in a game where character, willingness and desire were the ingredients for the victory.
Three ObservationsValour carrying potatoes on their way to the top of the league Valour FC don't want you to think they are good. They don't want you to tell them they have home advantage. They may have something in their second argument, after all, no fans are in the stands yet, they live in a bubble minutes from their families and don't get to train on their pitch often so we will give them that one. They are quickly losing their first argument. Rob Gale gave a postmatch press conference for the ages. He quoted Teddy Roosevelt, compared defender Andy Baquero's music qualities to David Brent in The Office, said 'winning is the deodorant of football, covering all the smells' before bringing out the hymn sheet we had all waited for. "Some have a chip on our shoulder, we have a bag of potatoes. They want to prove everybody wrong," said Gale. Andrew Jean-Baptiste carried on singing from the same sheet: "A lot of guys have been written off by a lot of people and everyday we get to go on the field and shut them up. People keep coming up with these lists, for us, it's like none of us are in there, that's fine it just motivates our guys to shut them up. These are not players you think you can write off." The fuel to their fire has helped Valour into two wins from two games against the two teams who made the final of the Island Games in 2020. These plucky underdogs as they clearly like to refer to themselves are outcompeting teams and clearly enjoying being written off and their performances on the field are just as entertaining as Gale's off the field. Collective performance helped by strong spine Valour's spine led the way. Goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois made some excellent saves to keep his team ahead after losing control while leading 1-0. "It felt really good. As our team got tired I had to do my job to keep us in the game. The more the saves came, the more confident I got. I came here to get playing time, I am getting that and loving every second of it," said the CF Montreal loanee. In front Jean-Baptiste was tremendous again as was central midfielder Raphael Ohin, who Valour will have a hard time keeping hold of if he continues performances at this level. The Ghanaian covered so much ground again leading his teammate Jean-Baptiste to deliver a glowing comparison: "He is the rhino, underrated by some but appreciated by so many who cleans up a lot of things before it gets to me, he is the 'Winnipeg Kante'." Plenty of positives for Halifax HFX deserved more and will have a lot more to build from in this game than they did in their 2-0 loss to Pacific FC on the weekend. Midfielder Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé admitted his team 'were much better' and that the momentum in the second half can hopefully take them on to something more positive this weekend. It looked like they had equalized in the first half, Alex Marshall's rocket of a shot hit the bar and landed close to the line but the officials waved play on. Gale, whose team had one day less rest than HFX, admitted his team struggled to keep the ball against them in the second half and Stephen Hart will be encouraged by the fluidity and movement of their attack.
CanPL.ca Player of the MatchAndrew Jean-Baptiste, Valour FC "How is he not in the Haiti Gold Cup team?" asked Rob Gale post-match. "Thank you very much," he added. Not only did the central defender score a key goal but he was outstanding once again leading the back line against a dangerous HFX attack. With many key figures out of the Valour team it is hard to imagine the team without their imperious leader right now whose reading of the game was exceptional again. "He is an MLS defender, and that's not an invitation to come get him, keep your hands off the beast or the rhino (Ohin) - our Winnipeg Zoo. They are absolutely monumental to us and Andrew was fantastic again. A leader on and off the field." added Gale.
What’s next?HFX Wanderers kick off the third round of games this Saturday, July 3rd against Cavalry FC (7 pm ET/6 pm CT); Valour FC, meanwhile, will play Atletico Ottawa later that night in the second game of the doubleheader (10 pm ET/9 pm CT). Watch all games live on OneSoccer.