PENALTY KICK SAVE KEEPS UNBEATEN STREAK ALIVE FOR METRO LIONS IN 3-3 TIE WITH BRAMPTON HITMEN
Metro Lions came within the long arm of their goalkeeper Courtney Campbell to losing their first of 14 league and cup games since June 6, but Campell’s outstretched acrobatics and recovery in saving a penalty kick at 90 minutes assured his team of a 3-3 tie with Brampton Hitmen at Birchmount Stadium Thursday, the only game in the Canadian Professional Soccer League.
On Wednesday, third-place Vaughan Shooters kept pace in the Eastern Conference with a 3-1 victory over St. Catharines Wolves at Club Roma, St. Catharines, the only game played in the CPSL Wednesday, and on Tuesday, North York Astros came back from a 1-0 half-time deficit to salvage a 1-1 tie with Hamilton Thunder at The Soccer Centre in Vaughan.
It was a ding-dong two way struggle for both teams at Birchmount Stadium in Scarborough on Thursday night as both teams took the lead during the game starting with Lions’ Craig Patton at 13 minutes, followed by two Brampton goals, Ivan Jurisic at 18 minutes and Hugo Herrara made it 2-1 for the Hitmen two minutes after the interval.
Maxim Dorneval tied the game 2-2 for Metro Lions at the 55th minute and the Lions took a 3-2 lead at the 76th minute on a strike by Gabriel Salustius who neatly flipped the ball over the oncoming Brampton ‘keeper Tony Swaminathan.
Paul Daccobert tied the game yet again for the Hitmen and the end-of-the-game drama included the penalty save by Lions’ Courtney Campbell to foil what appeared to be a well-placed strike by Willy Giammarra after he was taken down inside the 18 yard line by Metro Lions’ Sasha Kosanovic.
Metro Lions are on top of the Eastern Conference with a 8-1-5 WLT record for 29 points following tonight’s game, while Brampton Hitmen improve by one point to 4-5-5 for 17 points to be tied for third place in the Western Conference with Hamilton Thunder.
Forward Sasa Milaimovic opened the scoring for Hamilton on Tuesday night when he found the net at the 22nd minute mark and the 1-0 score held up to the interval.
Astros tied the game at 51 minutes when pressure on the Hamilton goal paid of with a strike by former Toronto Croatia midfielder Alen Majstorovic.
St.Catharines held a 1-0 half-time lead over Vaughan Shooters on a goal at eight minutes by Gary McGuchan on Wednesday night, but it was a different story in the second half when Joey Todaro added to his already outstanding play to tie the score 1-1 at 51 minutes.
Matt Palleschi made it 2-1 for Vaughan at the 60th minute and the team from just north of Toronto were well in control as the game progressed and Fitzroy Powell increased the lead to 3-1 at the 84th minute mark, the final score.
The score could have been higher but for the strong play of Vince Lepiani in the St. Catharines goal, the reserve team goalkeeper playing his first CPSL game of the season during the suspension of regular 'keeper Claudio Perri.
Referee Ian Adair handed out seven yellow cards in an otherwise clean encounter.
Vaughan Shooters improve to a 7-3-4 WLT record for 25 points to narrow the gap with Metro Lions with 29 points and Toronto Supra, with 28.
St. Catharines continue to struggle at the foot of the Western Conference standings with a 2-8-5 record for 11 points.
The Astros need all the points they can muster as teams scramble for the vital third position in the standings for a berth in the playoffs. The team from North York now has a 3-6-4 WLT record for 13 points in fourth spot in the Eastern Conference and trail third-place Vaughan Shooters by 12 points.
Thunder’s playoff prospects are brighter with a 4-3-5 record for 17 points, three behind second place London City following Tuesday's game.