(WINDSOR, ON) – For the second straight week, the Windsor Stars received a 2-goal performance to help secure a home draw against the visiting 2015 League Champion Oakville Blue Devils at Alumni Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The new-look Stars came from behind to earn a point in league play and now are in 3rd place in the West Division.
From the opening kick, both teams were tentative in their approach with much of the play centred in the midfield as they employed the short passing game. The occasional through ball for either side was typically gathered in by the respective keeper and amounted to no risk.
Oakville was the first to break through when Filipe Vilela found mesh off a broken play in the Windsor end, in the 33rd minute. The Blue Devils then went ahead just before halftime after Kody Ellis knocked in a cross as he went high into the air.
Despite the 2-nil score, Windsor’s head coach Shane Topalovic believed that Windsor performed well in the first 45 minutes.
“I think the two chances they had were against the run of play,” Topalovic said. “I think we dominated the majority of the 1st half. We had ball possession. We didn’t get very many shots, though. That was our problem.”
Despite being down by two, the outlook was not bleak on the Windsor bench.
“The 1st half we were unlucky. A couple of scrambles and unlucky goals,” Windsor keeper Kyle Vizirakis said. “We talked in the locker room about being stronger and more aggressive moving the ball. Clearly we dominated the 2nd half and got a lot more chances.”
Windsor stepped up the attack in the 2nd half, taking the play to the Oakville side, and pressuring the defense and keeper Daniel Voci. For their part, the Blue Devils repelled the play with considerable stamina.
The Stars then penetrated the staunch defense from the left side and Mike Pio managed to gain territory into the 6 yard box. The elder Pio blasted a shot past Voci to get the Stars on the board and breath life into the home side in the 72nd minute.
Windsor continued to push forward when, just minutes later, Pio slid a pass inside to Celso Carapau. Before the Windsor striker could touch the ball, he was vigorously pulled down resulting in an immediate penalty call by referee Fabrizio Stasolla. Pio made no mistake from the penalty spot to draw the Stars even with Oakville at 2 in the 78th minute.
“It was a great play by Celso to get the contact and the penalty shot was huge for us,” Pio said shortly after the final whistle. “I just had to bear down and put the ball in the back of the net. I knew the team needed it.”
After 5 minutes of stoppage time was added, Windsor and Oakville went home with a point apiece.
Dropping a 2-goal lead didn’t sit well with Oakville assistant coach Duncan Wilde.
“We didn’t defend the set play, gave up a free header, over played in our zone, gave the ball away, and conceded a penalty” said Wilde past game. “Just very naive play in our own side of the field.”
The Stars now have 4 points after two matches, just a single point behind both Sigma FC and FC London. They will play next in the GTA on May 15 when they visit the Kia Training Ground to take on TFC Academy.
Windsor will return to Alumni Stadium on May 22 when North Mississauga SC, currently 3 points back of Windsor, visits the Stars. Kick off is at 4:00pm.