FC Edmonton probably deserved more, but had to settle for a tie against Atletico Ottawa in its sixth game inside the Canadian Premier League bubble.
Kyle Porter scored in the 86th minute to pull out a 1-1 draw for FC Edmonton at IG Field in Winnipeg late Sunday night.
Coming on as a second-half substitute, Porter put in a rebound after Hunter Gorskie hit the post on a scramble in front. It was FC Edmonton’s seventh shot on target in the game and only one not turned away by Atletico Ottawa goalkeeper Dylon Powley, who frustrated his former team all evening.
“I think we deserved to get the three points (for the win), but as we all know, the game’s not fair,” said FC Edmonton head coach Alan Koch. “We conceded early, which was the complete opposite of what we wanted to happen, but I was very proud tonight of the performance.
“That was probably our best performance in the bubble. We imposed ourselves on Ottawa in large chunks of the game. I think we did a good job of possessing the ball, and probably created more in this game than we have in any other game and we had the character and the strength to keep pushing and get something out of it in the end.”
Powley, 24, who spent the previous two seasons with FC Edmonton before signing with Atletico Ottawa, made six saves and came close to posting the shutout despite his team getting outshot 7-5. FC Edmonton also had over 62 per cent of the possession, while attempting 19 shots compared to nine for Ottawa.
“Dylon, when he plays against Edmonton, he’s motivated obviously, and you can see it,” Koch said. “He’s got his team points both times we played against them. He decided to move on before I got the job here in Edmonton and you can see he’s a quality goalkeeper, and hopefully, he continues to have success throughout the season.”
Ottawa scored the opening goal of the game four minutes in, capitalizing on a fortunate bounce off the foot of FC Edmonton centre back Mele Temguia. The ball skipped on Temguia just as he was about to clear it from the front of his net and it went straight up in the air, where Brian Wright headed to Zachary Verhoven, who buried it into the roof of the net past goalkeeper Connor James.
FC Edmonton had a number of excellent chances to get back in the game before halftime, but were thwarted by Powley, who made an outstanding save on a header from Shamit Shome two minutes after Ottawa took the lead.
Late in the half, FC Edmonton midfielder Thomas Gardiner was put in through on goal, but Powley came up with another big save to keep Ottawa ahead.
FC Edmonton striker Tobias Warschewski had another good opportunity in first-half injury time as a long shot from defender Amer Didic deflected to him in front, but his shot was smothered by Powley.
“Dylon, like the rest of the team, especially in defence, I think we did a good job,” said Ottawa head coach Mista. “It seemed tonight maybe Edmonton deserved more than us in the game, but I thought we did a great job in defence, because we avoided giving up more goals. We were almost able to make it to 90 minutes, but Edmonton were able to score at the end.”
In the second half, FC Edmonton took the game to Ottawa, who was short on the bench and suffering the effects of a second COVID-19 vaccination days earlier.
“Honestly, it was a miracle we were on the field tonight,” Mista said. “Last Friday, we all got our second does and (Saturday), every member of the team was in bed with a fever. We were so tired today as a result, and I thought we did a great job holding out nearly 90 minutes without conceding a goal.”
With just under 20 minutes left, Easton Ongaro rolled a shot just wide from a sharp angle.
Porter came on as a substitute with 15 minutes to go, and was able to pounce on the rebound off the post for his first goal in his second tour with FC Edmonton.
With six minutes of added time due to the number of second-half substitutions and a mandated water break, FC Edmonton came close to scoring the winning goal, but Ottawa was able to hold on.
FC Edmonton has two games left in the Winnipeg bubble before returning home to play out the rest of the schedule as normal. Edmonton faces the HFX Wanderers from Halifax on Wednesday and York United on Saturday.
FC Edmonton will host Valour FC of Winnipeg on July 31 in its first game at Clarke Stadium.
“I thought we showed some character battling back and we deserved more than the draw,” Gardner said. “I thought we were on the front foot all team and really created a lot of opportunities. I thought it was a really solid response from the boys coming out playing the way we did and it’s something we’ll build on moving forward.”
On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest