Oakville cruises to win over London City

STEVE GREEN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 10:58 AM ET

And it all started out so well, too.

Twelve minutes into their Canadian Soccer League game last night against the National Division-leading Oakville Blue Devils and London City was up 1-0.

But a minute later, in what can only be described as a brain cramp by City goalkeeper Ibrahim Hadzic, the game was turned on its head.

Hadzic was red-carded for deliberately handling the ball outside the penalty area and the Blue Devils made their numerical advantage pay, cruising to a 5-1 victory at Cove Road Field.

Bernard Al Chaar scored for City (1-5-3) in his first-team debut, but was taken off a minute later to bring City down to 10 men. Judah Hernandez (17th minute), Gavin Russell (22nd and 85th), Sam Hazam (31st) and Huffman Eja'tabe (70th) scored for Oakville (6-2-1).

It could have been a much closer game were it not for goalkeeper Sabrahima Traore, who robbed Al Chaar in the ninth minute and stopped an Eris Tafaj penalty in the 58th (denying Miguel Knox on the rebound) and a Johan Wikman header in the 64th.

It was small consolation for City manager Harry Gauss.

"That's the crap life hands you, but you've got to be able to turn it around and get your heads up instead of giving up.

"That's what was good about the second half. At least I saw guys out there working hard, because they have to motivate themselves in that situation."

The only bright spot for City was the play of Al Chaar, who is nothing if not persistent. He called Gauss in preseason, requesting a tryout. Gauss said he couldn't afford to pay him, but Al Chaar still showed up and it paid off.

"I told him I wanted to play anyway," said the native of Lebanon, who arrived in London by way of Nova Scotia. "I believe in myself and I just wanted to play the way I know I can play. I just tried to be self-disciplined and wait for my chance."

"I just wish that red card didn't happen," he said, "because the game would have been totally different."

Al Chaar may have done enough to warrant a start in City's next game tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Toronto Supra.

"I'm proud of him," Gauss said. "That's the way to step up."

City returns home Friday to play Toronto Serbian White Eagles at the Cove at 8:38 p.m.

BLUE DEVILS 5

CITY 1


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