HALIFAX — Coming back from behind is turning into a trend for the HFX Wanderers. It’s entertaining, but a little dangerous.
The latest comeback came in the Canadian Championship after two goals in quick succession gave the Wanderers a 2-1 win over Valour FC in the first leg at Wanderers Grounds on Wednesday night.
“I wasn’t happy that once again it’s a situation where we gave up a very preventable goal. But it’s almost like we’ve been there before, we don’t need to panic, ‘we can get it back’ sort of syndrome,” said Wanderers coach Stephen Hart after the game. “But at some point, that comes back to bite you.”
With injuries to forwards Luis Alberto Perea and Akeem Garcia, the architects of the 2-1 comeback win against Pacific FC in the CPL on Saturday, it was time for a new hero to step up.
Enter Tomasz Skublak.
The 21-year-old Canadian scored at the 39th-minute mark, picked up an assist on Mohamed Kourouma’s goal in the 41st, hit a crossbar and was a handful for the Valour centrebacks all night as he created three chances.
“I thought Tomasz was fantastic, he worked both sides of the pitch,” said Hart while highlighting how he brought the midfielders into the game. “Couldn’t ask him to do any more today but he’ll have to do it next Wednesday.”
Skublak also had a goal in the first leg of the first round against Vaughan Azzuri on May 15 but didn’t see the field as much in the last two home games during the CPL regular season.
“I just feel like it’s important for new players that come in to make an impact on the team,” said Skublak. “It’s important to take advantage of the moment that you have.”
The striker gives credit to a video session before the game for his success on the Wanderers Grounds.
“Definitely did a good scan of how they defend and what their weaknesses are and what I should stick to,” said Skublak. “The post was unlucky and maybe the next chance will go in.”
After the Pacific FC comeback win, Hart said he thought “the young Skublak could learn a lot from playing along with someone like Luis (Perea).” While they didn’t share the field together last week, it seems like some of that goal-scoring prowess is rubbing off.
“I feel like he’s a fantastic striker, there’s a lot to learn from him, he’s very humble and he plays to his strengths,” said Skublak of the Colombian striker. “He’s a really good role model, very calm and he’s very open to giving his wisdom and the information that he has.”
The contribution of the 21-year-old puts the Wanderers in a much more comfortable position when they face Valour in Winnipeg for the second leg on June 12. But that comfort could disappear quickly.
“I definitely believe that we have to go there and get a clean sheet now, especially since they have an away goal. If we go over there and get a result it’ll be important. If we go a goal back, we just know that we have to push forward and get our own away goal,” Skublak said.