It wasn’t pretty, by any means, but it was ultimately effective for Cavalry FC, as Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s side picked up their second consecutive victory at Spruce Meadows by way of a 1-0 result against Valour FC, with Jose Escalante scoring the only goal of the game in the 86th minute of play to give the Cavs’ all three points.
The Honduran winger-turned-forward struck a delicious free kick late in the match – the first free-kick goal scored in Canadian Premier League history – to earn the result for his team in a match that was otherwise dictated by the physical nature of play.
If there were any indications that this match would take on a free-flowing and spacious look, they were quickly dispelled as the two teams swapped fouls throughout 90 minutes – 13 in the first half alone, 30 in total.
Valour nearly opened the scoring in the 17th minute, Ali Musse testing goalkeeper Marco Carducci with a strong drive between the two Cavalry centre-backs before shooting on goal, but Carducci made a clean save to preserve the deadlock.
Rather than opening up the play for more efforts of the sort, the rest of the first half was riddled with rough tackles and a first yellow card, to Valour defender Jordan Murrell.
Escalante nearly gave the Cavs a lead in the 47th minute, getting on the end of a quick ball but hitting his shot against the side-netting in agonizing fashion. Valour’s Martin Arguiñarena responded, in kind, with a hard drive toward Carducci, who dove low to make the reflex save.
But Escalante would not miss his second effort, hitting a left-footed free kick through the Valour wall and past Tyson Farago to give his team a second win out of two to start the 2019 CPL campaign.
Next up? Valour returns to Investors Group Field on May 11 to take on HFX Wanderers FC (3:30 p.m. ET, 2:30 p.m. CT, available on OneSoccer). Meanwhile, Cavalry FC travels to Hamilton to take on Forge FC on May 12 at Tim Hortons Field (1 p.m. ET, on OneSoccer).
Three key performers
Ali Musse (Valour FC)
Ali “The Moose” was all over the forward line for Valour, crafting five shots, three on target, as he attempted to break down the Cavs’ backline. He was an ever-present threat up top, offering equal measures of pace and purpose in his attacking runs, and was unfortunate not to find the back of the net to cap off that individual effort.
Elijah Adekugbe (Cavalry FC)
Elijah Adekugbe led the pack in passing metrics with an astounding 94% pass accuracy, while also recording seven interceptions in midfield. Executing on those metrics all but shut down Valour’s midfield presence at times, and while he’ll rue a late yellow card, which may have marred his defensive contributions … he also drew the game-winning free kick.
Marco Carducci (Cavalry FC)
Confident with his feet, and even more confident with his gloves, Marco Carducci made short work of just about every single shot directed his way, looking unshaken despite Valour’s free kick attempt, corners, and snaps from distance. His opposite, Farago, enjoyed a similar night up until the 86th minute, but Carducci left the match with a clean sheet to his name.