Match in a sentence
The Humber Hawks produced a professional performance over the weekend with a narrow 1-0 victory against a competitive Niagara Knights side.
- For those who haven’t watched Humber play or had the chance to read any of my recaps, Humber set up in their typical 4-3-3 formation. How boring!
- Niagara’s natural shape was a 4-5-1 with the two wide men tucking in to give Niagara a narrow shape. When going forward those wide men fled to the touchline and that narrow 4-5-1 became a 4-3-3.
- Humber started the game well keeping hold of the ball and moving it quickly across Valley field (the pitch was awful). They were dominating the middle and their full backs were getting forward and provided the width that their 4-3-3 thrives on.
- Humber forward Daniel Braga was immense against Niagara. His movement off the ball was exceptional, he was dropping deep into the midfield to help Humber dominate the middle, and he was constantly dragging Niagara defenders out of position. Overall he was their best player on the pitch by a distance.
- Niagara shocked many with how they approached this match. Many teams have been content with sitting deep and taking their chances when presented, but this Niagara side was different. They were resilient and took the game to Humber, but their slow ball movement saw them lose possession multiple times in the middle of the park.
- It was also interesting to note that Niagara’s lone striker was horrendous. He failed to hold up the ball to allow his players to get forward, and when he did receive the ball, he chose to take on Humber’s entire backline. He lacked skill and the intelligence to know what to do when he received the ball.
- It was rookie Blake Jones who scored Humber’s solitary goal, and the provider was Braga. Braga received the ball at the top 18-yard box and dribbled his way to the edge of the box where three Niagara players surrounded him. Braga played a fantastic ball to Jones who ran into the box and took a spectacular first touch past the keeper and tapped the ball into the open net.
- Humber were worthy leaders and they continued to dominate possession into the second half, but yet again they struggled to create legitimate goal scoring chances.
- With Niagara pushing forward and trying to get an equalizer, Humber decided to bring on Nick Cisternino. Cisternino gives the Hawks a real attacking threat up front and that’s when the chances picked up for Humber.
- During the latter stages of the match, the game opened up and Niagara attempted to push for a winner. The problem with Niagara going forward was their build up was slower than molasses and they lacked cohesion going forward. The midfield often tried to dictate the game because their striker was abysmal and their wingers couldn’t get the best of Humber’s solid fullbacks.
- Overall Niagara produced a fearless performance and displayed their brand of football that nearly nicked them a point. Niagara failed to produce goal-scoring chances and when they did they were squandered. They battled Humber to the final whistle and their coaches got their tactics spot on, but they didn’t do enough on the day. The Knights are an average striker away from being an OCAA West division midtable side. Until then, they will continue to grind out games and struggle to score goals.
- Niagara coach Frank DeChellis stated that “Humber is a decent team, I don’t think they’re as dominating as they were in years past, but they beat a good team and should be proud of themselves.” It might sound like the coach was a bit of a sore loser, but he has a point. As I said last week, it’s really difficult to determine whether this Humber team is that “good” or if their opponents are that “poor”.
- The Hawks strength is their defensive solidity that’s seen them conceded two goals this season. But as another game concludes, the Hawk’s goal scoring problems continue. It has to be said that without Matthew Rios this side going forward isn’t as threatening. Cisternino makes them a much better side as he’s a proven goal scorer, but without Rios the Hawks struggle offensively. Reassessing their tactics or stepping away from the 4-3-3 might be an option as the Hawks are in desperate need of a plan B. It’s safe to say that without Rios, their 4-3-3 isn’t as effective, and we can go as far as stating they don’t look like an OCAA provincial champion calibre side without the big man.
- I’d also like to state that it’s an absolute farce that Daniel Braga wasn’t awarded player of the game by whoever makes these decisions at Humber. Just had to get that off my chest, because the people who make these decisions were clearly watching another game.
- Humber lost a key match at home 1-0 to rivals Sheridan Tuesday night. This Tuesday they travel to Fanshawe for the final game of the season that will decide who finishes top of the OCAA West division. Fanshawe are unbeaten this season, and currently sit at the top of the division.
Man of the match