The Brantford Galaxy kept pace with the top teams in the Canadian Soccer League with a 3-0 win over the visiting Niagara United on Sunday.
The victory pushed the Galaxy up one position in the standings, into a tie for third place, as several other teams vying for top spot also scored victories.
Now 10 games into the season, Galaxy coach Ron Davidson said his team continues to improve.
“The guys want to play and they listen and work hard in training,” he said. “It’s paying off and I’m quite pleased.”
The Galaxy jumped out to a 1-0 lead just seven minutes into the game, when striker Jacek Przednowek jumped on a weak pass just outside the crease and fired it home.
“We knew the grass on the field was long so passes along the surface needed to be hit well,” Przednowek said. “I just got a little lucky and took advantage of it.”
The Brantford-born player, who scored three goals in the Galaxy’s last game, threatened to add another goal on a breakaway in the 19th minute, but was rejected by a diving Jon DeLuca in goal for Niagara.
“Credit to the midfield for setting those plays up,” Przednowek said. “The whole team has been playing well. I just take advantage of the chances we get.”
Five minutes later, a great pass by Przednowek sent forward Jeremy Shepherd in alone on net.
Shepherd chipped the ball past the keeper toward the side of the net, then beat DeLuca in a race and buried the ball to make it 2-0.
“We are working together and communicating,” Shepherd said. “And we are scoring on our chances, which is the main thing.”
Adam Leggett made it 3-0 in the 41st minute by finishing a quick passing play in the midfield by Damion Scott and Stephen James with lob shot into the back of the goal.
The Galaxy had more chances in the second half of the game, but also allowed more chances to the Niagara United squad, which only had two decent shots on goal in the first half.
“If there was a negative, it’s that we got a big relaxed after getting that 3-0 lead,” Davidson said. “I was pretty disappointed with the second half.”
Melford James Jr. was much busier in net during the second half, but stood tall to preserve a shutout.
In the 67th minute, an errant pass by the Galaxy left a Niagara forward alone in front. James Jr. made an initial sprawling save before bouncing up and diving again to take away the lower part of the goal on the rebound shot, forcing the ball to sail over the net.
Przednowek, Leggett and Shepherd all came within inches of adding to the scoresheet during the second half.
“I definitely should have had a couple more,” Przednowek said. “It took us a couple games, but we are definitely getting a lot better now. The guys from out of town and the hometown guys are all coming together.”
Star forward David Simpson got stuck in traffic on the way to the game from his home in Markham. He was planning on arriving in time for the second half, but Davidson called and told him not to worry about it after the Galaxy went up 3-0.
The Galaxy are home for the next two weekends.
The Windsor Stars come to town on Sunday, July 22, for a game at Lions Park at 7 p.m.
The following week will see the homecoming of former Galaxy coach Lazo Dzepina, who was fired after a poor start last season. Dzepina now helms SC Waterloo. The team is in Brantford to play the Galaxy on July 29 at 7 p.m.