On the eve of the CPL’s 300th game, Pacific and Cavalry FC combined for a classic on Thursday, as they traded goals and red cards in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Starlight Stadium, making it a top-of-the-table clash to remember.
Pacific came flying out of the gates to begin this game, eager to put their winless run behind them. As a result, they got off to a dream start inside just five minutes, as Djenairo Daniels did well to win the ball high up the pitch, before storming in on a breakaway, one that he’d finish without hesitation to give his team an early lead.
Frustrated by allowing that early mark, Cavalry looked to immediately get back into the game, and nearly did just that in the 12th minute, as a great ball from Daan Klomp found the head of the red-hot Aribim Pepple at the back post, but Pepple’s header just sailed over the goal.
At the other end, Pacific nearly added to their lead in the 16th minute, as a dangerous corner would bounce to the CPL’s leading scorer, Alejandro Diaz, who had lined up for a bicycle kick, but his acrobatic attempt slid just wide of the mark.
After that, things would quiet down a bit, but they’d then break wide open in the 28th minute, as a coming together between both teams led to red cards for Cavalry’s David Norman Jr. and Pacific’s Manny Aparicio, reducing both sides to 10 players for the rest of the game.
Despite the space that those expulsions would provide both teams, things would remain quiet after that, however. Because of that, the next great chance wouldn’t come until the 40th minute, when Pacific’s Kunle Dada-Luke found Sean Young with a great cutback, but Young’s first chance would be just blocked inside the six-yard box, a fate his ensuing shot would also receive.
Yet, having been encouraged by that chance, Pacific would then double their lead just minutes later. After a great run down the flank by Josh Heard, he did well to get to the byline and loft a cross towards the back post, where it found the head of Gianni Dos Santos, who’d nod the ball home from close range to extend his side’s advantage.
Unfortunately for Pacific, however, they wouldn’t be able to maintain that two-goal lead into halftime, as Cavalry then managed to claw one back. After winning a set-piece in a dangerous area, Ben Fisk played the ball over to José Escalante, who decided to float one towards the back post, where he’d find the run of Klomp all alone for the header.
Disappointed with themselves for giving up that goal, Pacific nearly restored their two-goal advantage right after, as Dada-Luke mazed through a couple of Cavalry defenders before unleashing a shot, but his attempt would be easily saved by Cavalry’s Marco Carducci.
From there, though, that’d be all that the first half would have to offer, leaving both teams to regroup ahead of the start of the second stanza.
Which, for Cavalry, proved to be huge, as they came flying out of the gates in the second half. Through that, they’d actually find a way to tie the game up just five minutes into the half, as Escalante stepped up to take a free kick in a dangerous position, and made no mistake with his strike, curling his shot into the top corner with power and precision to knot the game up at two-apiece. And they wouldn’t be done there, either.
Just minutes later, Cavalry did well to find some space to attack into on a counter-attack, leading second-half sub, Jean-Aniel Assi, to whip in a dangerous ball, one that’d find Pepple at the back post, wide-open to tap home his sixth of the season, vaulting him into a tie for the CPL’s golden boot lead in the process.
Continuing their strong half, People nearly grabbed sole possession of that top spot just minutes later, too, as he did well to turn and fire a shot in the 64th minute, but his shot sailed just wide of the post from inside the box.
Having endured all of that pressure, however, Pacific would then fight back in the 75th minute, tying the game back up. After a great ball into the box off a set-piece from Matthew Baldisimo, the ball would find the head of Alejandro Diaz, who’d regain his spot atop the golden boot race with a thumping header inside the box.
Yet, their equalizing efforts would nearly go to waste just a minute later, as Pepple found some space in the box once again, doing well to unleash a strong shot, but his attempt would be saved nicely by Pacific’s Callum Irving, who’d fly across goal to deny the effort.
Then, in the 84th minute, Ali Musse had a good look at goal for Cavalry, lining up a shot from distance, but his attempt sailed well over the goal.
At the other end, Pacific nearly grabbed a late winner right in the 90th minute, as Diaz did well to leap highest to a spicy ball into the box, but his header would glance past the wrong side of the post, much to the relief of Cavalry.
From there, however, that’d be all that either team would be able to muster up, leaving them share the spoils in a result that was certainly fair for both parties, all things considered.
5′ — Djenairo Daniels (Pacific FC)
42′ — Gianni Dos Santos (Pacific FC)
45+3′ — Daan Klomp (Cavalry FC)
50′ — José Escalante (Cavalry FC)
56′ — Aribim Pepple (Cavalry FC)
75′ — Alejandro Diaz (Pacific FC)
28′ — Red: David Norman Jr. (Cavalry FC)
28′ — Red: Manny Aparicio (Pacific FC)
49′ — Yellow: Kunle Dada-Luke (Pacific FC)
52′ — Yellow: José Escalante (Cavalry FC)