VORKUTA, HIGH SCORING HAMILTON CITY SCORE VICTORIES IN CSL KICKOFF
PICTURE: The CSL returned following a three-month delay and postponements to stage two well-played, exciting fast-paced encounters with goals galore. There were no early season signs of fatigue in both matches – a credit to the players who kept it up through to the final whistle.
FC Vorkuta picked up where the team left off in 2019 with a strong performance and a 2-0 victory over Brantford Galaxy in the opener of an abbreviated and delayed 2020 Canadian Soccer League season played at the Esther Shiner Stadium in Toronto Saturday. It was the first of a double header, with the second game ending 6-4 in high scoring encounter in favour of Hamilton City over Serbian White Eagles.
The two opening games kicked off a shortened regular league schedule that will run for almost two months to early October and will conclude with the top four teams advancing to the playoffs and the CSL Championship. All games will be played at two grounds only, Esther Shiner Stadium and Centennial Stadium in Toronto.
There is a similarity in the early performance of Brantford Galaxy and the more recent FC Vorkuta in their first season as expansion franchises in the CSL.
Brantford Galaxy entered the CSL in 2010 with strong community support which included Walter Gretzky, father of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky. The elder Gretzky occasionally travelled with the Galaxy side to away games and the new entry surprised the soccer community by being the first expansion franchise in CSL history to win the CSL Championship in its inaugural season. Vorkuta took the CSL First Division title in its debut 2017 season and followed up with the CSL Championship the following year.
There has been a marked contrast between these two teams in recent times, however, including the 2019 season when unbeaten Vorkuta won the First Division title, while the struggling Galaxy managed just two victories to end the season at the foot of the table of an 18-game schedule.
Hamilton City entered the CSL in 2016 and has finished mid-table in each of the first three seasons to qualify for the playoffs each time. In its inaugural 2016 season the City advanced in the playoffs to be championship finalists, going down in a thrilling late win by today’s opposition Serbian White Eagles. The winners had returned to the CSL in 2006 following several years with distinction in the CSL forerunner National Soccer League. Serbian White Eagles earned the NSL championship victory in 1974 to become the first Canadian club to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup.
It was a scoreless, well-played first half in the opener between Vorkuta and Brantford Galaxy, with Vorkuta opening the scoring on a penalty kick at 58 minutes, a strike by forward Liubomyr Halchuk following a Brantford defender’s hand ball call by referee Ranee Arbaji. Vorkuta made it 2-0 at 82 minutes following a passing play on the right wing that was broken up until forward Mykola Temniuk took possession to drive the ball into the net from the edge of the box.
Momcilo Veliko of Brantford Galaxy was ordered off just before the final whistle after being shown a second yellow in the match by referee Arbaji. It was 2-0 in favour of Vorkuta at the final whistle.
In the second game, Hamilton City struck first against Serbian White Eagles, a goal by Ilija Bajcetic at 14 minutes and Serbian Eagles tied 1-1 at 37 minutes, a goal by Marko Stajic. Joe Willingham made it 2-1 for the ‘home’ team Hamilton at the 39th minute mark, Zoran Kokot increased the lead to 3-1 for Hamilton at 41 minutes and Willingham scored a second goal for a 4-1 Hamilton lead at 45 minutes. This was followed by a goal from Serbian Eagles midfielder Misel Klisara less than a minute later, a 4-2 Hamilton lead at the break.
Klisara struck again for the Toronto area side at 58 minutes, reducing the Hamilton lead to 4-3 and Bozidar Tadic struck for Serbian White Eagles at 72 minutes to tie the score 4-4.
Serbian White Eagles were awarded a penalty by referee Norm Oliveira for an infringement in the box at 80 minutes, Tadic took the kick and Hamilton goalkeeper Alexandar Nicolic made the save.
Two late goals by Hamilton’s Raine Lyn, at 84 minutes and in added time at 94 minutes gave Hamilton City a 6-4 victory.
The next games in the 2020 5-team abbreviated CSL schedule are:
Sat Aug 22 Esther Shiner Stadium 5:00 pm Scarborough vs SC Hamilton City
Sat Aug 22 Esther Shiner Stadium 7:00 pm Serbian White Eagles vs FC Vorkuta
The regular season will be completed early October, to be followed by the CSL Championship playoffs during October.
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