Sloppy City still in hunt despite loss

STEVE GREEN - London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:50 PM ET

Almost in spite of themselves, London City are still in the hunt for the Canadian Professional Soccer League playoffs.

Any more results such as last night's, however, and the chase is over.

In a shambolic defensive display that hung goalie Ibrahim Hadzic out to dry, City gave up two sloppy first-half goals in the first 15 minutes and wound up losing 4-1 to the Windsor Border Stars last night at Cove Road field. City fell to 5-9-4 as London's league winless streak is now 11 games (seven losses and four ties).

Radek Papiez, with three, and Aaron Byrd scored for the Border Stars (5-9-1), who won their second straight. Dennis Peeters scored an 84th-minute consolation goal for City.

"It's just one thing after another," Peeters said of the skid. "Once you get down, guys start taking things personally, trying to do too much instead of sticking to what they know.

"We've just got to get it up to the forwards and let them do their job. But one or two mistakes and guys start panicking."

Despite the loss, City stayed a point ahead of the St. Catharines Wolves (5-7-3) in third in the West Division after St. Catharines lost 2-0 last night at East Division-leading Toronto Croatia. The top three in each division make the playoffs.

St. Catharines is at Cove Road next Friday in City's final home game of the regular season. London then finishes with road games at Durham, Vaughan and Croatia, so there was no overstating the importance of last night's result as far as City manager Harry Gauss was concerned.

"You commit those kind of mistakes and you can make any team look good," he said, lambasting young City defender Ilia Ilic in particular. "They're not as good as we made them look. We let them play.

"They're an older team and we didn't take advantage of that. And when you let an older, experienced team play, they'll show you some things.

"We've got to start doing some of our own work now. We can't be doing it for other teams."

City was in a hole early. A giveaway in the City end allowed Byrd to find space behind the defence and he was able to round Hadzic to score in the 12th minute. Three minutes later, Byrd played a square ball to a wide-open Papiez, who couldn't miss.

City weren't without chances in the half, however, as Border Stars goalkeeper Anthony Santilli was forced into three good saves on long drives, two by Mohcine Talouati and one by Dennis Peeters.

But Papiez got behind the City defence to score in the 51st minute and finished his hat trick in the 66th when a cross from the right found him in acres of space with Hadzic again helpless.

In the final seconds, City's Keith Andrew shot wide on a penalty after he'd been brought down in the area.

GAME GLANCE

Border Stars 4, City 1

Windsor goals: Radek Papiez 3, Aaron Byrd

London goal: Dennis Peeters

Up next: City plays its final regular season home game against the St. Catharines Roma Wolves Friday at Cove Road field in a makeup of a rained-out game.


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