HIGHLIGHTS: Morelli goal leads HFX Wanderers to tight win over FC Edmonton

HFX Wanderers FC picked up a crucial three points at home on Saturday afternoon, as Joao Morelli’s first-half goal was all they needed to beat FC Edmonton by a 1-0 scoreline at the Wanderers Grounds, bringing them ever closer to the top four in the CPL standings.

FC Edmonton entered the game fresh after a week and a half off since their previous contest, so Alan Koch was able to pick a strong starting XI with Easton Ongaro leading the line as usual. The Wanderers, meanwhile, had a handful of injury concerns, so recent signing Alejandro Portal lined up at right-back with Samuel Salter getting the start at centre-forward.

Both sides opened the match with good energy, the Wanderers pressing hard despite their emotional midweek Canadian Championship game. HFX had a heavy majority of possession in the opening stages, although the Eddies managed to find a handful of chances by winning balls high up the pitch.

The Wanderers managed to find the scoresheet about midway through the first half, as Alex Marshall picked out a chipped pass over the Eddies backline to put Stefan Karajovanovic in on goal alone. Edmonton ‘keeper Connor James managed to stop Karajovanovic’s attempt, but in the ensuing scramble in the box, HFX talisman Joao Morelli found the loose ball and put it in the net for his 12th of the CPL season.

Down a goal at halftime, Koch made a surprising substitution to try and shake things up with his side, as he brought dynamic wide man Jeannot Esua into the match to replace Ongaro. Esua did create an excellent chance for the Eddies almost immediately, when he found Shamit Shome in the box with a great cutback pass, but Shome couldn’t bury the opportunity.

Not long after, HFX countered with an attacking substitution of their own, as Akeem Garcia came in for the final half hour in place of Salter. Cory Bent and Pierre Lamothe followed shortly to try and spruce up the Wanderers’ attack, though it was Edmonton who looked the more dangerous side for much of the second half.

The Eddies heavily outshot the Wanderers in the second half, and were it not for a pair of goal-line blocks by Karajovanovic they might have had several goals and turned the result around. Koch made a few more changes, with Matthew Durrans and Gabriel Boakye (making his debut for FCE) causing a lot of trouble for HFX after they came on, but Edmonton still couldn’t find the Wanderers’ goal.

With the victory, HFX moved a little closer to the playoff picture, with their 25 points allowing them to leapfrog Valour FC into fifth place, and putting them just one point back of York United for fourth place (although the Nine Stripes play on Sunday afternoon).



24′ — Joao Morelli (HFX Wanderers FC)


87′ — Yellow: Peter Schaale (HFX Wanderers FC)
90+1′ — Yellow: Andre Rampersad (HFX Wanderers FC)
90+1′ — Yellow: Akeem Garcia (HFX Wanderers FC)
90+3′ — Yellow: Kieran Baskett (HFX Wanderers FC)