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Valour FC climbs into CPL playoff race with victory over Pacific FC

PFC returns to action Saturday at Starlight Stadium
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Pacific FC defender Amer Didic tries to control the ball as Valour FC striker Diego Gutierrez closes in during action at IG Field in ­Winnipeg on Sunday. PACIFIC FC

Valour needed to be valiant down the stretch, and they have been, climbing back into the Canadian Premier League ­playoff picture.

Valour FC defeated Pacific FC 1-0 Sunday at IG Field in ­Winnipeg in a six-point swing game to move within five points of PFC, which holds down the fourth and final playoff spot.

The Tridents season of swings continued as they lost their second consecutive league game following a stretch in which they had won five consecutive league matches and were undefeated in six.

PFC (10-6-5 in CPL ­wins-losses-ties) was under pressure for much of the game as the travel miles seemed to have caught up with the club. The epic trip began with the ­cross-country trip to Halifax for the 1-0 loss to HFX followed by flying to Central America for the CONCACAF League competition, as defending CPL champion, and the trip back up to Winnipeg.

“It looked like we hit a wall,” said PFC head coach James ­Merriman.

“It was a challenge and difficult for our group overall and we looked tired and fatigued. It’s not an excuse. Just a fact. It was disappointing. But we have been on the road a long time. We will regroup and reset.”

Valour FC had eight shots on target to none for PFC.

“[Valour] created more chances,” said PFC goalkeeper Callum Irving.

“We had a lot of travel but can’t use it as an excuse. Every game is important. We knew this was a big one and knew we could not drop points.”

Former Canada U-20 player and Toronto FC MLS prospect Rocco Romeo scored the goal at 62 minutes off a set piece.

“We were not assertive enough to win the ball, myself included,” said Irving.

“We should have dealt with it. If you don’t focus in the moment, you pay the price.”

Valour’s Romeo said: “It was a matter of who reacted first.”

Valour FC head coach Phillip Dos Santos reflected on just how crucial the victory was for his club (8-7-6).

“We understand where we are at this moment and need to get points against teams ahead of us,” he said.

“This was more of a six-point game for us than it was for Pacific. There are seven games left and 21 points and all are important for us. It is almost tournament mode. We have to be the best team of the final five.”

PFC returns home to meet York United at Starlight Stadium on Saturday.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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