PREVIEW: Cavalry FC vs. HFX Wanderers FC – Match #87
Charlie O’Connor-Clarke, Contributor
Canadian Premier League — Match #87 Cavalry FC vs. HFX Wanderers FC October 5, 2019 — ATCO Field at Spruce Meadows (6 p.m. ET/4 p.m. MT) Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca
HFX Wanderers continue their road trip this weekend by heading into the daunting lair of Cavalry FC, as they look for a first away win in their second-last road match of the season.
Coming off a gutsy draw with Pacific FC on Vancouver Island, HFX has now split points in each of their last six games (four of which were at home). They still sit at the bottom of the table, but the gap between them and fourth place is just three points. So, Stephen Hart’s side could certainly climb the ladder in these last three contests of the Fall campaign to provide a silver lining heading into the off-season.
The Cavs, on the other hand, are far from winding down their season. With four matches to play before the Canadian Premier League Finals kick off, the Spring season winners are trying to build up as much momentum as they can in October. They downed Valour FC by a wide margin on Wednesday, but the match was a very tight affair until around the 80th minute. Still, it was Cavalry’s third lopsided victory in five games. They’re two points off the pace of Forge FC at the top of the table right now, and Tommy Wheeldon Jr. would like to close that gap and claim the Fall season.
These teams have produced some very close-fought contests, their last meeting a 0-0 draw at Wanderers Grounds in August. The Cavs are still the only team to win in Halifax, although HFX made them sweat perhaps more than they’d expected.
Cavalry will follow this match with another home date on Wednesday, as Forge comes to ATCO Field at Spruce Meadows for a Finals 2019 preview (9:00 p.m. ET, 7:00 p.m. MT, on OneSoccer). HFX, meanwhile will play their final home contest of the year that same evening, as Pacific FC heads east for one last Coastal Clash (6:00 p.m. ET, 7:00 p.m. AT, on OneSoccer).
KEYS TO THE MATCH
Set-pieces: These two clubs are extremely dangerous from dead-ball situations. The Cavs scored twice in that fashion on Wednesday, with Julian Büscher demonstrating how well he can pinpoint a target with a stopped ball. HFX’s only goal of their midweek match also came off a set-piece, as Akeem Garcia managed to tap in a Juan Diego Gutierrez corner. Both sides’ backlines need to be especially vigilant when setting up for those situations; they can’t afford to let attackers go missing because Büscher and Gutierrez will find those targets.
Move in sync: Perhaps Valour’s biggest problem against Cavalry was a handful of deadly miscommunications between their back four. Dominique Malonga’s first goal, especially, came about because the visitors’ defenders were much too far apart, leaving a giant pocket of space for Dominick Zator to play a through ball. HFX deployed a back three at Pacific, and they were fairly solid, but that setup might leave them vulnerable to the same sort of gaps. Any Wanderers defender drifting wide must be certain the space he’s leaving will be covered.
Be patient: Playing against Cavalry is one of the most exhausting tasks in the CPL, and for good reason. Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s side has refined the art of methodically breaking down an opponent over the course of 90 minutes. They didn’t find their burst of three goals until the last 10 minutes on Wednesday, but the Cavs dominated possession and shots the entire evening. Expect them once again not to panic if it takes a little while to find the right opportunity, because they’ve come to excel at playing patiently and sticking to their game plan.
Cavalry FC: Marco Carducci; Dominick Zator, Mason Trafford, Joel Waterman, Nathan Mavila; Nik Ledgerwood, Julian Büscher; Nico Pasquotti, Sergio Camargo, Oliver Minatel; Dominique Malonga
HFX Wanderers FC: Christian Oxner; Alex De Carolis, Duran Lee, Matthew Arnone, Andre Bona; Mohamed Kourouma, Elliot Simmons, Elton John, Juan Diego Gutierrez; Akeem Garcia, Thomasz Skublak