Blainville 1, CSMRO 0: Griffons Handed Their First Loss as Top Two Teams Battle It Out
Controversy Took Over as 10-Man Griffons Give Up First Place With Two Games Left in the Season.
If there’s one thing soccer never fails to teach us, it’s that nothing makes sense and if you try and predict something, you’re most definitely going to end up being wrong.
The world of soccer is an untamable and temperamental entity that does not care about current form, standings, or your expectations going into a game. That was on display once again as AS Blainville beat the Club de Soccer Mont-Royal Outremont Griffons 1-0 at home on Saturday evening.
Going into the most important game of the year and what could arguably be a title-deciding matchup, a team’s form is always an important talking point. MRO was flying high, having won their last five games and retaken first place from an uncharacteristically sloppy Blainville team. The latter had a run to forget going into Saturday, having dropped points in two of their last four games, including their first loss of the season to seventh place CS Longueuil.
However, all that goes out the window when the biggest game on the Première Ligue de soccer du Québec schedule is. That seemed to be the case in the opening half-hour. Blainville’s brash and assertive brand of play dominated the pace at the opening and brought MRO into a more physical encounter.
The shift was something Griffons midfielder Bilal Qsiyer — who made his first start in almost two months following a knee injury — admits hurt them in getting the result they wanted.
“Very early on we got sucked into their style of play which is more physical,” said Qsiyer. “We’re a team that likes to have the ball at our feet and dictate the pace of the game but today we were frustrated often and that showed in how we tried to get forward.”
Not only did the team get sucked into Blainville’s physical brand of soccer, but they also paid the price for it. Seven minutes into the game, MRO’s Oussama Lagel was booked for a late tackle and repeated the offense just over 20 minutes later. He received his second yellow card and left the league leaders shorthanded with just under an hour left to play.
However, Blainville only needed five minutes to make their advantage count as a spectacular Maxime Leconte free-kick sailed into the top corner with no chance for Griffons goalkeeper Gabard Fénélon.
The Griffons spent the next 55 minutes trying unsuccessfully to get past Blainville goalkeeper Erwann Ofouya, who shut down five different golden opportunities, which included breakaways on two separate occasions.
Missed chances aside, the officiating was a cause for controversy, especially in the second half. A lot of this went against the Griffons and it left them feeling hard done especially after a penalty claim in favour of MRO was ignored after a handball in the box.
Confrontations following the game between members of the Griffons’ coaching staff and a referee evaluator from the Quebec Soccer Federation only amplified how hard done by the team felt.
Griffons head coach Luc Brutus was not available for comment on the game but when asked for comment, assistant coach Nather Jarrar — who was thrown out following his complaints about the no-call on the penalty — simply suggested “go ask the Federation [du Soccer du Québec].”
MRO defender and captain Renan Dias shared a lot of the sentiment that was surrounding the Griffons locker room. And the decisions on officiating the biggest game of the season.
“I don’t think that the Federation made a good decision with the referees today,” said Dias. “This is the most important game of the year and you cannot have a referee that we haven’t had all season.”
The loss now slides the Griffons back down to second place on head-to-head matchups, given that they drew their first meeting. With only two games left before a champion is crowned, the pressure is on both teams but Blainville appears to have the advantage as they need to beat much weaker opponents in last place FC Gatineau and second-to-last place FC Lanaudière.
On the other hand, MRO is going to have a significantly more challenging end to the season as they’ll be taking on CS Fabrose and CS Saint-Hubert who are in sixth and third place respectively. They’ll need to win both games in hope that Blainville drop points at some point in the next two games.
“The gap you see on paper is often misleading,” said Dias. “Every team has quality players or they wouldn’t be in this league.[…] it’s football, crazier things have happened.”
The Griffons will head to CEGEP Montmorency on August 25 at 6:30 to take on CS Fabrose and look for three crucial points.