Phillip Dos Santos could study the analytics and break down every nanosecond of what unfolded at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton Saturday noon. And, in fact, that will undoubtedly come in due time.
But in the immediate aftermath of Valour FC’s 3-2 loss to defending Canadian Premier League champion Forge FC in Hamilton the club’s GM and head coach was pulling back for a big-picture view after the first defeat in league play this year dropped the club to 1-3-1.
“It’s Mother’s Day tomorrow. I’m going to take my wife to dinner with the kids and Monday life goes on. We train and we better the team. That’s the way I see it,” he said in his post-match press conference. “There’s no formula. We keep coming into games thinking we’re going to win them all. We want to, but we also have to take care of the moments where we don’t.
“We’re getting bodies back and I still haven’t seen the full potential of it, so I’m excited about that. We have to work and keep going.”
Frustrated with his team’s performance in last week’s 0-0 draw with Halifax Wanderers at IG Field, there was undoubtedly more to like in Saturday’s effort, even despite the result. Still ravaged by injuries and trying to find some cohesion in the starting XI, Valour managed to go toe-to-toe with the champions, trading punches from the start to the finish.
Valour opened the scoring in the 30th minute following a superb run by Pacifique Niyongabire, leading to Kian Williams burying his second goal of the season just under the crossbar.
Kian Williams 2nd goal of the season:
GOAL🚨@ValourFootball have taken a 1-0 lead over Forge, thanks to this rocket from Kian Williams after a tidy pass from Pacifique Niyongabire#CanPL | https://t.co/7JFAUhgRAE 🔴 pic.twitter.com/sZ6flsXPlG
— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) May 13, 2023
Forge answered with two goals, the first coming in the 33rd minute by Jordan Hamilton, with Kyle Bekker putting the home side ahead 2-1 in the 50th minute. Valour again answered, with Abdou Samake scoring the first goal of his CPL career.
GAME BACK ON IN HAMILTON🔥
It's Abdou Samaké's 1st career goal, as he benefits from a cheeky ball from Matteo de Brienne to catch Forge asleep, making it 2-2 with a powerful finish#CanPL | https://t.co/7JFAUhgRAE 🔴 pic.twitter.com/hKxe2iXRUR
— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) May 13, 2023
Forge would get the winner in the 77th minute courtesy Kwasi Poku in what was a theme for Valour on the day – sloppy defending inside the box. Having conceded just two goals through their first four matches, Valour gave up three to the champs, who stay perfect on the season and improved to 3-2-0.
“It just felt like every time we got a goal, we allowed Forge to get one back,” Dos Santos said. “We didn’t manage the game very well. I think for us it was about defining moments today; us not making plays that we need to make – to me, that was the biggest thing. When you come on the road here and you score goals normally you need to win, at least not lose the game.
“(The second half) was a bit too open. It became a bit chaotic. We have to be with those games. Things won’t always be structured, and it’s how can we impose our rhythm in our game and bring things to a cool when they are too chaotic.”
Valour managed six shots on target and had 54.3% of possession but looked discombobulated defensively on each of the three goals against. Again, it was about managing moments.
“It was special. I was obviously excited to see my family and friends after the game,” said Valour centre back Klaidi Cela, who was playing against his old squad. “We tried to take care of business and unfortunately, we couldn’t do that today, but I think there’s a lot of positive signs from the group. It’s a good game for us to build character from and learn how to close games.”
Valour is home next Saturday to face Pacific FC at IG Field, with a 4 p.m. start time.
“Let’s not over-think things – this is going to be a long race. We have to take the positives and address where we need to grow right away. The signs have been too good for us to start questioning too many things. Now we need to hold everyone accountable. These points that when you are able to hold on to them you can’t let go at the end.”
-Valour’s Dante Campbell picked up a yellow card in extra time and, as it was his fourth caution of the season, he’ll miss next week’s match against Pacific.
FORGE FC 3 VALOUR FC 2
33’: Jordan Hamilton (assist: Aboubacar Sissoko)
50’: Kyle Bekker (assist: Jordan Hamilton)
77’: Kwasi Poku (assist: Kyle Bekker)
30’: Kian Williams (assist: Pacifique Niyongabire)
74’: Abdou Samake (assist: Matteo de Brienne)
90+3’: Dante Campbell
83’: Triston Henry
VALOUR STARTING XI (4-2-3-1)
GK Rayane Yesli
D Dante Campbell
D Abdou Samake
D Klaidi Cela
D Matteo de Brienne
MF Diego Gutiérrez (C)
MF Juan-Pablo Sanchez
FW Kian Williams
FW Pacifique Niyongabire
FW Walter Ponce
F Anthony Novak