Despite a red card on the brink of halftime, Cavalry FC bagged a crucial home win on Thursday night at ATCO Field, coming back from a goal down to beat York United 2-1 and climb into first place in the CPL standings.
Entering the match, York coach Jimmy Brennan made two changes to his previous starting XI, bringing young stars Max Ferrari and Isaiah Johnston back into the side after both came off the bench last Friday against Atlético Ottawa. Cavalry, meanwhile, brought in three fresh faces from last week’s draw against Edmonton, as Elliot Simmons, David Norman Jr., and Joseph Di Chiara all got the start.
Right out of the gate, Cavalry set the tempo of the match with several waves of attacking pressure, but it was York that drew first blood from a counter-attack. Julian Ulbricht picked up a through ball on the right side of the box, and he found Isaiah Johnston in the middle for a well-taken low finish to beat Marco Carducci and make it 1-0 in the fifth minute of play.
Things went from bad to worse for Cavalry just 10 minutes later, as captain Nik Ledgerwood picked up an injury and had to leave the game — relieved in the 15th minute by Victor Loturi. However, they fought their way back quickly: in the 23rd minute, a corner kick from José Escalante found Sergio Camargo in the box, and after a flurry of chaos and a few bounces, the ball trickled just barely over the line through Nathan Ingham to make it 1-1.
After a stretch of wide-open attacking in which both teams threw a handful of good chances at one another, tempers boiled over just before halftime. After a hard battle brought York’s Chrisnovic N’sa and Cavalry’s Escalante together by the end line, players from both sides exchanged heated words before Joseph Di Chiara came in to grab Max Ferrari’s neck and pull him out of the scrum aggressively — earning the Cavalry midfielder his second yellow card within 10 minutes, and thus an ejection from the game.
Both managers tried to add a little more creativity to their side at halftime with a substitution, as Cavalry brought in José Hernández in place of Richard Luca, and York inserted Sebastian Gutíerrez to replace Noah Verhoeven.
The second half played out with York as clear protagonists, Cavalry sitting back more with 10 men. The pace of the game slowed down significantly as York tried to methodically break down the Cavs through the middle, but they weren’t able to find the knockout blow they needed. At one point in the 69th minute, York came achingly close to scoring as Ulbricht sent a good header on goal from a metre out, but Carducci made a stunning kick save to keep it at 1-1.
After wave upon wave of pressure from York, though, it was Cavalry who found the net next. They won a free kick a few yards from the corner of the box, and Ben Fisk delivered the set-piece right to the head of Daan Klomp — whose shot deflected of York defender N’sa and into the net to put the 10-man Cavs up by a goal with 10 minutes to go.
Holding on for the final stretch to see out the victory at home, the Cavs leapfrogged both Forge FC and Pacific FC in the league table to take over first place by a one-point margin. York, meanwhile, missed an opportunity to climb back into the playoff picture, as they remain in fifth — one point back of HFX Wanderers.
5′ — Isaiah Johnston (York United)
23′ — Sergio Camargo (Cavalry FC)
80′ — Chrisnovic N’sa (OG) (Cavalry FC)
40′ — Yellow: Joseph Di Chiara (Cavalry FC)
45+3′ — Second Yellow: Joseph Di Chiara (Cavalry FC)
45+3′ — Yellow: José Escalante (Cavalry FC)
45+3′ — Yellow: Isaiah Johnston (York United)
72′ — Yellow: Jordan Wilson (York United)
77′ — Yellow: Chrisnovic N’sa (York United)