Valour FC pushing for spot in second stage of ‘Island Games’
Members of Valour FC have encountered a gruelling match schedule with three games in six days to start the Canadian Premier League’s Island Games in Charlottetown.
But after Saturday’s 0-0 draw with York9, the Winnipeg side owned a 1-1-1 record and possession of third place in tournament standings.
The top four clubs after the seven-game opening group stage will advance to the second stage.
Valour head coach Rob Gale was impressed with his players resilence – they have played all three of their games in the mid-day heat of UPEI Artificial Turf Field in Charlottetown.
On Tuesday, Valour makes its debut in an evening time slot against Victoria’s Pacific FC.
“What I’ll tell you is the heat and the muscle injuries are very difficult – you get fatigued,” said Gale via telephone Sunday. “…Ottawa had an extra day rest before they played us and York had an extra day’s rest before they played us – so I think I think the cumulative of that is we’ve not been dealt the kindest hand in the scheduling. But credit to the boys, they’ve dug in and they’ve stuck to the task.”
On Saturday, both clubs had three shots on net and Valour goalkeeper James Pantemis posted his second consecutive clean sheet after Wednesday’s 4-0 triumph over Atletico Ottawa.
Gale said a lack of finishing was part of the reason they allowed victory to slip away.
“First half we were excellent, second half we fatigued and that’s obvious,” added Gale. “When we freshened up, we had chances in transition and we just looked a little sluggish. We missed the last final ball and that was some of the subs coming on as well. We missed an opportunity there yesterday.”
It was the first meeting between Valour and former star Michael Petrasso, who signed with York in the off-season. Petrasso started well but aggravated an injury and left in the 37th minute.
“We knew Mike was struggling with injury and he probably shouldn’t have played in all honesty,” said Gale, adding he expected Petrasso to miss the rest of the tournament.
Elsewhere, Kyle Bekker scored in the seventh minute of added time as Forge FC (2-0-2) moved into first place with Saturday’s 2-1 win over Pacific (0-1-2).
Gale sounded content to be third out of eight teams thus far.
“It’s the minimum we deserve and it gives us something to build on and as you see there’s been a lot of draws (in the tournament),” said Gale. “Everybody can beat everybody on their day, so it’s taking it game by game.”
On Tuesday, the Winnipeggers will face another familiar former star on the other side of the pitch.
“Another good match,” said Gale. “Another ex-player of ours in Marco Bustos, so he’ll be motivated to do well but it’s a good game of football and we’re looking forward to it being a little bit later at night and have a few more hours in recovery. This’ll be the longest recovery (period) we’ve had.
“It’ll be 72 hours between kickoffs, which is nice, and should be the minimum recovery time in any tournament.”
Gale hopes to get Arnold Bouka Moutou back in his lineup Tuesday. The 31-year-old defender was injured in the club’s opening game against Cavalry.
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.