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Historical win for Atletico Ottawa as Cavalry FC miss the opportunity to secure a playoff position

Expansion team Atletico Ottawa secured the club's first win as they shocked tournament favourites Cavalry FC with a 2-0 win in windy Charlottetown.

Atletico Ottawa made history on a day emotionally charged by the messages of 'Black Lives Matter' and the Canadian Premier League players' decision not to postpone the encounter between Cavalry and the Ontarian outlet.

Players, staff, officials and representatives of all teams surrounded the field prior to kick-off, reinforcing their message in the fight against racism and inequality. Both teams took to the field; however, the play was stopped after 8 minutes and 46 seconds as all those present took a knee.

In a first-half disturbed by the high winds saw few chances. Atletico goalkeeper, Nacho Zabal, was the centre of attention when he cleared a back-pass from Milovan Kapor only for the ball to get caught in the wind and come right back at him.

The veteran Spanish keeper decided to catch the ball for which the referee blew the whistle, indicating an indirect free-kick. After consulting with the linesman, the officials decided it was a legal move, much to the discontent of Cavalry captain Nikolas Ledgerwood.

In the 42nd-minute Nacho was called into action to make the best save of the first half. Oliver Minatel held the ball up well on the edge of the box before chipping a through ball for Elijah Adekugbe. The 24-year-old's shot was smothered by the onrushing keeper, deflecting the ball behind for a corner.

The game livened up in the second half, with good chances for Malcolm Shaw and Jordan Brown for Atletico and Cavalry respectively. It was Atletico that drew first blood though, Acuna found himself in acres of space on the right-wing to deliver an inch-perfect cutback for captain Ben Fisk, whose finish wrong-footed Cavalry keeper Marco Carducci.

The Calgary side continued to dominate possession, but where dealt another blow merely 3 minutes later. In the 64th-minute centre-back, Brandon John cleared aimlessly up-field, leaving Shaw to battle for the bouncing ball against Jay Wheeldon.

Atletico's 25-year-old striker was too strong for his defender, bullying him off the ball before getting his head up to see Carducci off his line. Shaw wasted no time, dispatching an inch-perfect chip into the top corner beyond the outstretched hand of the retreating keeper to make it 2-0.

Cavalry were unable to find a response despite some good opportunities as they sunk to their first defeat of the season, halting them from securing their playoff position - albeit they remain top of the league standings.

The newly-formed Ontarian side, however, will be delighted, both with the result and mental fortitude shown by the players after their previous run of results. Three-points means that they climb to 6th - one point behind 3rd place York 9.

CPL shares picture of solidarity on a day that will go down in Atletico Ottawa's history

Thursday the 27th August 2020 will go down in history across the sporting landscape of North America but, specifically, the day will mark an important anniversary for newly-founded Atletico Ottawa as they picked up the clubs first win in the Canadian Premier League.

The shooting of Jacob Blake in Milwaukee on Sunday sparked uproar across the USA, Canada and the world further afield, with protests coming in all forms. The three-games set to tip-off in the NBA were postponed after the Milwaukee Bucks, and the Toronto Raptors refused to play, with games across the MLS cancelled and talks being held over the upcoming playoffs in the NHL.

Atletico Ottawa vs Cavalry FC was the only game set to kick-off on Thursday in the Canadian Premier League, and eyes were on the teams and the league to see what they were going to do. The decision was made by the players, officials and representatives to take to play and communicate their message of solidarity on the pitch.

With all the players and staff present, the officials signalled to stop the game at 8 minutes and 46 seconds - everyone taking a knee in a powerful gesture of solidarity and unity, supporting one cause together—the fight against racism and inequality.

The match itself started at a slow pace with both teams feeling each other out. Cavalry controlling the possession and Atletico deploying the high press that gave them a 22-second reward last time out.

For Cavalry, this game was an opportunity to secure a guaranteed playoff position. Whereas Atletico were looking to continue building on the chemistry and team unity they had been building throughout the last few weeks.

High winds were a big talking point in the build-up, with the match moved to an earlier kick-off time to ensure that it wasn't hit by the worse of the storm, and it didn't take long for the weather conditions to play their part.

Passing the ball around their back-four, Atletico centre-back Kapur played a pass back to his keeper. Zabal dutifully hit the ball up-field, and even turned away, before realising the wind had caught his clearance and was coming straight back to him.

Under pressure from Brown, and wanting to avoid a corner, Zabal caught the ball prompting the referee to blow her whistle, awarding an indirect free-kick. Fortunately for the Atletico keeper, his blushes were saved when the officials decided that the Spaniard hadn't done anything wrong.

Though most of the first half was a quiet affair Zabal was called into action before the break, Oliver 25-yards out, drifting before delivering a delicately chipped his pass between two defenders - perfectly weighted for Adekugbe forward run.

The English midfielder had little time to get his shot away as Zabal was quick off his line to smother the chance, saving with his outstretched left leg to deflect the ball wide for a corner.

Mental fortitude as Ottawa retain their lead

It didn't take long for the second half to produce as many chances as we saw in the first 45-minutes. Atletico's high press working wonders again as Martinez winning possession back on the centre circle, the loose ball landing at the feet of Fransisco Acuna.

The Mexican quickly moved the ball left to Shaw and, shifting the ball onto his left foot away from Dominick Zator, fired at goal. His shot, however, was wild and sailed harmlessly over Carlucci's crossbar.

Withing minutes Cavalry created a great chance at the other end, Brown controlling a cross in the penalty area, taking one touch before turning and firing under a diving John straight into the arms of Zabal.

The side from Calgary continued to dominate possession without many incisions as Tommy Wheldon Jr.'s heavily rotated side struggled to break down a well organised Ontarian defence - Oliver forced to fire from 25-yards, harmlessly bouncing into Zabal's grateful arms.

Atletico Ottawa found the break-through after 61 minutes, and it was their stand out performer again at the heart of the action. With the Cavalry defence having pushed up too high, Martinez found Acuna in acres of space down the right-hand side.

The Mexican play-maker didn't need asking twice. Using Shaw's near-post run as a decoy, the 32-year-old pulled the ball back to the edge of the box to captain Ben Fisk who gave his side the lead, coolly stroking the ball back where it came from, taking a slight deflection on the way, leaving Carlucci flat-footed.

Cavalry were gifted a fantastic opportunity to draw level almost immediately when second-half substitute Nico Pasquotti's cross was missed in the box by Hamilton, falling perfectly for Mavila. On his weaker foot, the left-back snatched at the chance firing high and wide.

A costly miss as, not a minute later, John's aimless clearance downfield instigated a battle between Shaw and Wheeldon. The 25-year-old striker bullied the defender off the ball before getting his head up and noticed Carlucci off his line.

What came next was nothing short of perfection as Shaw placed a 30-yard chip over the head of the retreating keeper who could do nothing but flap helplessly at the air as the ball sailed into the top corner. A goal worthy of winning any game.

Cavalry didn't just lie down though as they push Atletico back to the edge of their area for most of the remainder of the game. A mismatch in pace left Phillips isolated against Pasquotti repeatedly, with the winger having the beating of him every time.

Much like the chance earlier in the half, Pasquotti delivered the ball on a platter as he drove his cross hard on the floor to the back post to Mavila. The left-back, finding himself in a forward position again, couldn't open his body enough as he dragged his left-footed shot wide with the goal gaping wide.

Brown had an excellent opportunity, connecting well on the half volley but his powerful strike flew wide and, in added-time, Oliver had a shot blocked by Kapur. That was as close as Cavalry would come and will have to wait to confirm their place in the playoffs.

However, it was a day to remember for Atletico. The team remained organised for the whole 90 minutes and, though there will be areas to improve, the fixture will go down in history as they registered their first win and their first clean sheet.

Malcolm Shaw

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