Improvement comes with little steps.
London City took a few of those little steps last night, holding the Brampton Stallions to a 0-0 draw at Cove Road Field and looking like they could have won the game. Two weeks ago, the Stallions defeated City 6-0.
"It never should have been 6-0," said City coach and manager Harry Gauss. "It was not indicative of the play. It was just one of those strange games."
It was a positive night for City, especially the play of Eris Tafaj. For most of the season, he's been plagued by injuries.
But Tafaj has been moved into a striker's position, which he appears to like more than a midfielder's role.
And he's becoming healthy. His darting runs and movement into the middle of the pitch created several opportunities.
"We need him to be playing the way he is now. He's one of the most dangerous strikers in the league, but we haven't seen it yet," said Gauss. "But the last two games we've played well because he's been playing well."
It was a good first half for City. They allowed Brampton only one good chance -- off a hard shot that deflected off City defender Shawn Ord and hit goaltender Ibrahim Hadzic.
City had several outstanding chances to score. Three minutes into the game, Johan Wikman found Tafaj with a wonderful through ball. Tafaj went in all alone and blasted a shot from 15 yards off the chest of Brampton goaltender Patrick Osundube.
In the 34th minute, City missed a chance that left everyone stunned. Dennis Peeters took the ball down the left side and sent a perfect cross to Wikman. Wikman was all alone at the corner of the six-yard box with half the net. He rose high to meet the ball and sent it skittering wide. Wikman grabbed his head in despair.
Brampton's best came with 70 minutes gone with good work by Andre De Andrade as he worked his way into the penalty area. His hard shot was stopped by Hadzic. The ball went to Brampton's Hugo Herrera, but Hadzic dove at his feet and cleared it away leaving Herrera in a heap.
City played without Erik (The Hammer) Elmauer, known for his big shot and rather explosive, unpredictable style of play. Gauss would use him for 15 minutes when his side needed a charge.
After the June 30 game, Elmauer turned in his uniform.
"I just felt I deserved to be more than a 15-minute player," said Elmauer. "I told Harry that I wanted to be more involved and he told me he would take care of it and he never did. I know I'm a good defender. I know what I can do."
Elmauer said he asked to be traded since he lives in Toronto, but it hasn't happened.
"I love the team. I love the fans. I even like Harry," said Elmauer. "I live for soccer. I miss it already. I thrive for soccer. But I've been here for four years and playing 15 minutes a game, it wasn't enough."
"I'll do everything I can to help him find someplace to play," Gauss said.
London Benfica of the Western Ontario Soccer League Premier Division plays Mississauga in an Ontario Cup game tomorrow at noon at Cove Road Field, not today as previously reported.