Hobbled City lose momentum

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 2:40 PM ET

It wasn't a good night for London City.

Not only did they lose their Canadian Soccer League game 2-1 to Oakville Blue Devils last night at Cove Road, they lost another goaltender to injury -- and lost momentum from a strong game last week.

It was a big game for City on the heels of last week's last-minute comeback against Toronto Portuguese Supra. But City came into the game hobbled, missing several players -- including starting goalkeeper Haidar Al-Shaibani, who was out with a back injury.

They started Oakridge secondary school's Cody Workman at fullback in his first game. The 18-year-old, didn't look out of place. He showed a willingness to run.

It didn't get much better for City with goalkeepers.

Five minutes into the second half, Ibrahim Hadzic collided with Oakville forward Petro Czoli at the edge of the box. He grabbed his arm and couldn't continue.

So began London's adventure in net with Erik (The Hammer) Elmauer. With Al-Shaibani and Hadzic out, Elmauer, a forward, put on the goalkeeper sweater and gloves.

"This is my fault," London City manager Harry Gauss said. "I went bare with one goalkeeper. I should have dressed a second one. I'll take the blame for this one."

It took two minutes for Elmauer to get involved. He charged out to scoop up a ball and couldn't control it. Sam Hazam directed it at the net but Dennis Peeters kicked if off the line, the second time he did that in the game. Five minutes later, the City defence got caught out and Hazam found himself in front of the net. Elmauer came out again and Hazam pushed it into the net.

Denny Velastegui made it 2-0 when he beat Shawn Ord like a rented mule to go in alone to beat Elmauer.

Michel Daoust gave City hope in the 88th minute when he managed to stick the ball into the net from a scramble in front.

With plenty of injury time, City pushed forward -- but despite some half chances, they couldn't come close to tying the game.

"The good thing is they didn't quit," said Gauss. "I'm proud of the way they played. Even when we were down 2-0, I didn't think we were out of it because we were making things happen."

City was plagued by the same problems they have had all year, an inability to generate chances. In the first half, they had trouble penetrating the Blue Devils defence.

Most of their attacks died at the 18-yard box.

Daoust and Karim Ben Sari didn't get many good balls to work with.

Midfielders Johan Wikman, who played despite an injury, and Erik Tafaj tried to get into the play with little support.

The one glaring weakness for City is the lack of support from the back. Oakville was able to concentrate on only three or four City players without worrying about anyone overlapping from the back into open space. Despite open areas down the sideline, most of the attacks were turned into the middle where Oakville had few problems containing them.

DEVILS 2

CITY 1


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