The newly extended Canadian Championship got underway this evening at Parc Equestre, with hosts AS Blainville taking on Canadian Premier League opposition in York9 FC.
It was a lively, wholehearted struggle with few chances at either end in front of an enthusiastic crowd of around 1,200. It’s been a while since I’ve heard a vuvuzela at a football match, but Blainville didn’t disappoint. They had two in the crowd!
They helped create an atmosphere along the spectator side of the pitch, the top end of which housed the noisier, dare I say, Blainville Ultras, or whatever name they go by. The lower half, along the touchline had the appearance of being more family oriented. But kudos to the noisy bunch up top, they sang and bounced passionately for most of the evening. It would’ve been interesting to see their reaction, had a goal gone in for their sideThe closest we came was on 30 mins, when the lively Farsi, cutting in from the right fed Maynard, but the former Canadian youth international saw his shot from 14 yards crash against the bar and drift safely behind.
The teams had exchanged chances earlier, Leconte keeping Nathan Ingham, in the York goal, honest, and Gattas, at the other end, beating Ofouya to a lobbed ball only to see his goal bound effort swept away by Dicko-Raynault.
What Blainville lacked in composure, they made up for with grit, determination and high levels of commitment. They had some good moments in the match, and will probably feel they can run their Canadian Premier League opponents pretty close again, when the second-leg takes place at York University, next week.
Former Impact defender, Wandrille Lefevre provided the experience in the middle of the park, and he was well aided in this department by Leconte and Mohammed Farsi.
York9 did move the ball around the better of the two sides, but disappointingly didn’t create a whole lot. The introduction in the 62nd min of Ryan Telfer, on-loan from Toronto FC, failed to provide the spark needed either, although he did supply one cross that had the home defence at sixes and sevens briefly, before they could clear.
The result was a fair one, and all’s still to play for in Ontario in seven days time.
In the other match that kicked off at the same time at the Ontario Soccer Centre, Halifax Wanderers of the Canadian Premier League defeated Vaughan Azzuri 3-2. It was heartbreak for the League 1 Ontario side, conceding a goal in the third minute of added time, after clawing back a 0-2 deficit to level at 2-2.
Their’s is now an uphill struggle with the the second leg in Nova Scotia, next week.
Getting back to Blainville, the winners of their tie with York9 will face FC Edmonton in the next round, the winner of which will meet Montreal Impact in the Third Qualifying Round.
One other game took place this evening at Westhills Stadium in Victoria, the all Canadian Premier League tie between Pacific v Cavalry, involving former Impact man Issey Nakajima-Farran. Not so good news for the much-travelled former Canadian international however. His side trailed 0-2 on 56 mins as this article went to press.