Atletico Ottawa keep playoff dreams alive after win over Pacific FC
Pacific FC will be ruing their wasted chances as Ottawa climb three-places into 5th courtesy of Martinez's 92nd-minute winner.
Having come close in the 53rd-minute when the ball fell to him in the box, Vitti Martinez was clinical in stoppage time as he reacted to a miscued clearance to poke home Atletico's winner.
Pacific looked dangerous throughout the match, McNaughton wasting two headers inside the first 20-minutes as he rose highest in the box from corners.
Wingers, Victor Blasco and Marco Bustos, as well as Jamar Dixon, caused issues down the sides throughout the match with all three players wasting good opportunities to give the British Columbian side the lead.
With over 60% of the possession in the second half, it looked like Pacific would be the team to find the breakthrough but despite their 17 shots, Ottawa held firm, riding their luck at times before finding the winner against the run of play.
As the clock ticked towards added-time Ben McKendry, put a teasing free-kick into the box. Brandon John headed the ball down to Mohamed Kourouma, but the Guinean was denied at point-blank range.
From the resulting corner, Thomas Meilleur-Giguère failed to clear his lines, and Martinez reacted fastest inside the penalty area to poke the ball home and win the game for Atletico.
Ottawa rise to the challenge in 'must-win' game Before kick-off there was only one thing on the minds of the Atletico players, "this is a must-win game". Head Coach Mista has said as much in his pre-match press conference.
He was right, as anything but a win for Ottawa and their chances of making the playoffs would disappear. Pacific FC however, was in a better position, though a win would've all but guaranteed their place in the next round. The first chances of the game fell to centre-back Lukas MacNaughton, his header from Blasco's corner sailing well over the bar before squandering a very similar opportunity merely ten-minutes later. An area that Pacific failed to exploit further as the game went on. Ottawa's first chance of the game came was crafted by Ben McKendry, making his full first-team debut. Breaking forward, the 25-year-old skilfully turned Sean Young before striking a 20-yard left-footed shot back across goal and straight into Irving's gloves. On the 28th-minute, Pacific crafted the best chance of the half. After good work down the right-wing by Bustos, he released Dixon on an under-lapping run. The 31-year-old Canadian took the ball in his stride, skipped past Milovan Kapor with a step-over, before firing well over from 8-yards out. As the first-half went on, the game opened up with chances falling at both ends. A long searching ball by Fransisco Acuna found former Pacific man Ben Fisk. The Ottawa captain held up the ball before releasing Malcolm Shaw to his left. His pass, however, was slightly over-hit, narrowing the angle for Shaw whose shot was smothered by an onrushing Irving. Bustos fashioned two good chances before the break. One, a low shot from the right angle of the box - however, his shot was tame, and an easy save for Nacho Zabal. Five minutes later, Pacific's high pressure paid off as Fisk turned the ball over 25-yards from his own goal. Bustos darted into the box, dribbling past the retreating Fisk, slipping the ball through Kapor's legs before his shot was deflected wide by Phillips.
Pacific lack clinical edge as Ottawa hold firm. Pacific FC and Atletico Ottawa came into the game having been fouled fewer times than any other side in the CPL - a reputation they seemingly wished to change with both teams conceding 19 fouls. However, Atletico took the lion share of yellow cards. Blasco wasted two opportunities with free-kicks from the edge of the penalty area not long after the break as he put the first over and the second straight into the wall.
Bustos' chipped ball over the top released the 21-year-old Canadian and, in a moment of brilliance or folly Zabal rushes out to meet him on the edge of the area, but Verhoeven's shot couldn't beat the Spanish keepers left foot. Against the run of play, it's the Ontarian side that found the breakthrough. A 50-yard free-kick was floated into the box by McKendry, centre-back John rose highest in the box to head the ball down to Kourouma's feet. The 30-year-old Guinean took a touch before Irving saved his shot at point-blank range. A deflection off MacNaughton threatened an own-goal before the 27-year-old keeper flicked the ball around the post for a corner. In disbelief, Kourouma ran over to take the corner. His first effort was poor, not beating the first man, but Matthew Baldisimo's sliced his clearance granted him a second opportunity. This time the delivery was far better. Pacific wasn't able to get ahead to the ball and, with it bouncing awkwardly, Meilleur-Giguère scuffed his clearance. With the ball loose in the box, Martinez reacted, thundering his shot in from 8-yards out. Second-half substitute and Pacific FC top scorer Terran Campbell came close to finding an equaliser in the dying seconds, but his left-footed shot on the turn bounced agonisingly wide of the post. Martinez's goal and Ottawa's win, moves them up to fifth (one spot above Pacific on their head-to-head record) three-points off Forge in first, leaving everything to play for at the weekend.