HALIFAX – It’ll be less than 72 hours between big games against tough opponents on home soil for HFX Wanderers FC.
After a thrilling 3-2 loss against Ottawa Fury FC in the Canadian Championship on Wednesday night, the Wanderers welcome the Spring title-winning Cavalry FC to town for a Saturday afternoon tilt at Wanderers Grounds.
“We talked about that today in our team meeting, just understanding the difference between playing in that Cup game and then stepping right into a league game,” said Wanderers coach Stephen Hart after Friday’s practice session.
It’s a similar situation for both opponents with Cavalry coming off a 0-0 draw at home against the Vancouver Whitecaps in the Canadian Championship.
“We have to forget, basically, what transpired in that game and be focused to accept the task of the game ahead,” Hart said of managing the team against the emotional game against Ottawa.
In that loss, Hart said the team learned valuable lessons around what happens when the team fails to clear the lines while under pressures.
“Ottawa did not carve us apart. We gave them all three goals. All three goals. We coughed up the ball in bad areas of the park and that is costing us games,” Hart said.
The last time Halifax faced Cavalry, it was a similar story with the Wanderers being punished for a pair of defensive mistakes in a 2-1 Cavs win and Hart hopes his side can learn from those mistakes.
“Well, you hope so. I mean in general 50 percent of all goals, regardless of the league, are scored from mistake,” Hart said.
“It stands to reason if you cut down the errors in crucial parts of the park, you have a better chance of winning games. You would hope that you do something, once, twice, three times and you get punished for it, anything other than that it’s a habit. We can’t accept that.”
The HFX Wanderers players are plenty motivated going into the Cavalry game before leaving town for a five-game road trip that spans the rest of July. Not only did Cavalry win the Spring title, they also spoiled the Kitchen party at the Wanderers Grounds on June 19.
“We try to be invincible at home,” said right-fullback Andre Bona. “We lost just the one game in the Spring season against Cavalry so we hope we get the revenge on Saturday and keep safe the three points at home.”
“It’s going to be a good game, we’re going to fight and give everything on the field because last time against them here, we missed the chance to win,” said defender Chrisnovic N’Sa who played as a substitute midfielder against Ottawa.
On the injury front, the Wanderers continue to have more options as almost the entire roster continues to take part in training. Striker Luis Alberto Perea showed his value in his return against Ottawa with a goal and the play in the box that set up a Fury own goal. A couple players left training on Friday but Hart said it may have just been a precautionary measure the day before a game.
“I basically know the lineup I want to go with. I will have to make those decisions probably tomorrow,” Hart said.