Match Analysis: HFX Wanderers FC 0-0 Forge FC

Final Score: HFX Wanderers 0-0 Forge
Goalscorers: None
Game of the 2021 season: 98
CPL match: 234

MATCH COVERAGE: HIGHLIGHTS: HFX, Forge FC find playoff pursuit stalemate at sopping Wanderers Grounds || Sights & Sounds: HFX Wanderers 0-0 Forge FC

Match in a minute or less

HFX Wanderers FC and Forge FC played out a tame scoreless draw at Wanderers Grounds Saturday afternoon. Both teams struggled to find much of a rhythm on a wet pitch in Halifax, starting with a Forge side that travelled directly from Concacaf League play in Costa Rica at midweek. With the result, Halifax moves up to two points clear for fourth and, in the process, mathematically eliminated far-flung FC Edmonton. Forge, meanwhile, remain third on 41 points and will move on to play CF Montreal of MLS in the Canadian Championship Wednesday… Only to host Halifax themselves on Saturday.

Three Observations

‘We have to take care of our business’

There wasn’t much to separate Halifax and Hamilton in a potential first-round playoff tilt. Forge grabbed a couple half chances while the Wanderers went the full 90 minutes without testing opposing ‘keeper Baj Maan.

As mentioned, Saturday’s result sees the Wanderers take a two-point lead for the final playoff spot and Forge, who could have clinched a playoff spot with a win, go up to 40 points with a couple of matches at hand.

Both managers were accepting of the result, coming as the playoff race heats up, as the tight cagey affair

“It was a good balanced game,” Forge FC coach Bobby Smyrniotis said. “Here are two teams really battling late in the season and I think we saw that today.”

Hart, meanwhile, called the result “disappointing” as he prepares for a two-match road trip away to Valour FC on Tuesday and in Hamilton Saturday. Halifax likely need multiple points on said road swing to stave off York United, who could leapfrog Hart’s team win a win in Ottawa Sunday.

“We have to take care of our business – we were playing at home, and I thought we could come away with three points considering Forge played on Wednesday,” Hart said

Glass half full or half empty for HFX?

Excuse the water-based metaphor following a soaking wet match like what we saw in Halifax.

As highlighted on last week’s Newsroom, Halifax has this innate ability to stay in matches late – a combination of defensive solidity and the will to push on. The Wanderers were, on the whole, quite sturdy on the day as Kerian Baskett grabbed his third clean sheet in a row.

But you can’t deny the Wanderers need something else in attack as they played their fourth match in a row where they failed to score – not counting an own goal against the Pacific. Mamadi Camara and Sam Salter make a formidable front two but failed to make much happen even on solid performances from wingers Morey Doner and Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé.

But the Wanderers have also come away from a three-match set against top-of-the-table contenders Pacific, Cavalry, and Forge with four points – not a bad run at all – and have only lost once (to Forge two weeks ago) in 15 league matches.

So, is it glass half full or half empty? Taking arguments for both in the Wanderers Grounds stands.

Forge injury and suspension trouble as ‘monumental task’ continues

If you haven’t noticed, Forge is in the middle of something very important in Canadian soccer.

Saturday saw their second of three competitions in a week, as they pivot from an important Concacaf League tie to a massive tilt at home to CF Montreal of MLS in the Canadian Championship Wednesday – both matches somehow making the Halifax tilt seem lesser despite the looming CPL playoffs.

This brings us to the unfortunate injuries Forge saw in Halifax that could have permutations in the coming weeks.

Johnny Grant went down in the first half and was replaced by Elimane Cisse, Chris Nanco pulled up lame in the second half and left the match after coming on as a substitute, and Dominic Samuel also received a yellow card late – a caution that will see him suspended for their next league match Saturday at home against the Wanderers – on a play Smyrniotis claimed the referees didn’t see.

“The play was with let go and waved off and all of a sudden it’s a free-kick, a yellow card, and now you got a player missing your next CPL game,” Smyrniotis said.

“You lose players to injuries and cards in different situations and it becomes difficult – we’re putting in a monumental challenge here on three fronts in Concacaf League and the Canadian Championship.

“It’s obviously the frustrating part of the game.” Player of the Match

Eriks Santos, HFX Wanderers FC

Santos was sturdy as ever as a left fullback, combining nicely with his fellow defenders and grabbing a match-leading five tackles and a staggering 16 possessions gained.

What’s next?

Next up for HFX Wanderers in their playoff push is a return to Winnipeg to face fellow contender Valour FC on Tuesday (7:30pm CT/9:30pm AT). Forge, meanwhile, will turn their attention to CF Montreal in the Canadian Championship semi-final set to be played Wednesday (7:30pm ET). These two teams will meet again in a week, when the Wanderers head to Hamilton for Saturday (1:00pm ET/2:00pm AT). Watch all matches live on OneSoccer. In addition to its website and app, OneSoccer is now available on TELUS channel 980 and on Fubo TV. Call your local cable provider to ask for OneSoccer today.