Final Score: York United 1-0 Cavalry FC Goalscorers: Bayiha 23' Game of the 2023 season: 27 CPL match: 394
Match in a minute or lessYork United picked up their first home victory of the season 1-0 over Cavalry FC on Sunday evening, handing the visitors their first loss of the campaign. Despite being out-possessed and out-chanced for most of the ninety minutes, the Nine Stripes held on for their second straight victory -- another first in 2023. Clément Bayiha scored the game's lone goal on a 23rd-minute counterattack, his first for York United. In their second straight clean sheet, York became the first side to shut out Cavalry this season, also passing them in the table in the process.
York United finally getting healthy, finding consistency in performance as a resultFor back-to-back matches, York United's Martin Nash rolled out the same starting eleven, something he has rarely had the luxury of doing since he took over as head coach of York United at the start of last season. Ahead of an incredibly busy month for the club, the Nine Stripes are finally getting healthy -- as Mo Babouli, Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé and Johnny Grant returned to the bench as well and all came into the match as substitutes. The results are following, as the club ground out an impressive home victory against one of the league's most difficult opponents. "It is definitely nice to be able to start the same team twice in a row," said Nash. "I think it was one of the first times I have been able to do it, with the performance that the guys put in [last week] it was the thing to do today, to put the same team out again." For the first time this season, York United also picked up back-to-back clean sheets. While they trailed in many statistical categories, they were able to limit Cavalry's serious threats throughout the match, keeping them to just two shots on target and 0.54 expected goals. In this regard, having consistency across the backline -- an area where they have been especially turbulent this season, has been critical. A back four of Max Ferrari, Tass Mourdoukoutas, Paris Gee and Lassana Faye were outstanding for the second consecutive match. "It is refreshing that after beginning with a lot of injuries and things like that that we were carrying, having to rotate and play guys out of position, we were able to field the same eleven twice and it showed with people knowing their roles, and we didn't give up too much today," said Mourdoukoutas. "We could have scored more as well, especially at the end there were a couple of chances and things like that. Like I said, I don't think we have been fully fit yet, and now with the competition it is raising everyone's levels." York will get an even bigger chance to make a statement midweek, as they travel to Hamilton to yet another undefeated side, top-of-the-table Forge FC. Whether they can get a result there or not, however, there are significant signs of progress as this York team starts to finally get a number of its important players back to fitness.
York United's direct, vertical approach has ignited attack, next step is balanceAfter scoring three goals against the Halifax Wanderers last weekend, York were able to once again find offensive success through a direct and vertical approach, one which has really played to their strengths in terms of numerous weapons out wide. Despite being the home side, York seemed willing to largely concede possession, in favour of trying to move forward quickly any time they won back the ball. They created multiple chances in transitional, putting up 1.34 expected goals on seven shot attempts. Paris Gee was particularly adept at doing this, playing once again as a central defender, the natural fullback used his passing range to quickly move the ball to the club's attacking players. While he is still looking for his first goal of the season, the work rate and composure of Osaze De Rosario have been important in this regard as well. His hold-up play created the goal, and several other chances on Sunday evening, as he completed an impressive 11 of his 12 passes while leading the line. York in particular looked to exploit the space behind Cavalry's two attack-minded fullbacks. It was on such a sequence that they scored their lone goal of the match, with Bayiha getting in behind down the right flank and slotting home his first CPL goal. He was a handful in transition all match long and looks to really be settling in as a key player for York this season. "He's been brilliant for us and it was nice for him to get his first goal for us," said Nash. "He's very talented, he's direct, pacey, yeah I think he's a cracking player and he's just going to improve. The more and more minutes he gets the better he is going to be, it is great to see him flying and playing well." But while Nash recognizes that his side's verticality has been key to recent results, he knows that they still need some work in controlling the tempo of matches. On a few occasions, they unnecessarily brought pressure on themselves by trying to move the ball too quickly -- especially through the central channels. "I think that is important, you can create some easy chances that way," said Nash. I think the next stage for us is figuring when to keep it, and when to go. I think we are go, go, go a little bit too much for my liking. We have talked about it, we have worked on it, but it is going to take some time to settle in. You can't just go every time, otherwise the game [becomes] a bit of a track meet and then you tire out like we did at the end. When they have a lot of possession so we have to find a nice balance to it where we still create the chances, but we find the moments to keep it."
Cavalry's first loss comes after failing to control the match's big momentsFor the first time this season, the final whistle blew and Cavalry FC did not collect a single point on Sunday evening. It was a result that the visitors were certainly a little hard done by, as they created the majority of the chances and had 67.3 per cent of the ball during the match. But in the game's biggest moments, the execution just wasn't there from Cavalry. They had 29 touches in the York box, but just two shots on target -- which came from distance. "I think we have topped every single statistic in today's game, that shows the manner in which we are playing, other than the one that is most important, and that's the scoreline," said Cavalry FC head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. "But I'm not going to change what we are doing in terms of how we want to play this game, we will get more points playing that way, then we will just sitting low and playing on the counter, that is not in our DNA." While it was the first time they have been held scoreless this season, it was also the sixth time in seven matches that they have been scored against. Cavalry struggled at times to defend against York in transition, and it ultimately cost them -- a trend this year as they are looking for more 90-minute defensive performances. "It's just moments, I think collectively we've had '95 per cent games', there's things that we absolutely need to be better at," said goalkeeper Marco Carducci. "Over the course of my time with Cavalry we have kept a lot of clean sheets. Today, again there's a moment where we lapse in concentration and we get broken down and it hurts us." Carducci, who was playing in his 100th game for Cavalry-- the first player to do so -- believes that shoring that up would quickly lead to more positive results for the club this year. There has been a lot to like about Cavalry this season, and on Sunday, but the killer instinct just isn't quite there yet.
CanPL.ca Player of the MatchClément Bayiha, York United Bayiha was a threat all match long down the flanks, scoring his first CPL goal as a reward. He also created two chances and had five successful dribbles during his best performance to date as a York player.
What’s next?York United's busy week continues as they travel to Hamilton to take on Forge at Tim Hortons Field on Wednesday, May 31 at 7:00 p.m. ET. They then travel to Winnipeg's IG Field for a match against Valour on Sunday, June 4 at 3:00 p.m. ET. Cavalry, coincidentally, also have Forge next as they host them next weekend, on Saturday, June 3 at 2:00 p.m. MT at ATCO Field. 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.