Don’t make a mistake against HFX Wanderers FC, or you’ll be punished for it.
Although Valour FC played on the front foot for much of their game on Wednesday afternoon, it was the Wanderers who emerged 2-0 victorious after a pair of first-half goals against the run of play.
It was a huge result for Wanderers, who would have been eliminated from contention with a loss. With the win, HFX moved into fourth place in the CPL table — a spot they’ll hold on to at least until the weekend’s matches, thanks to Pacific FC’s defeat on Wednesday night.
Valour opened the proceedings with plenty of time spent in HFX’s end, but did not produce an overwhelming amount of threatening shots. They did come achingly close at one point, with a scramble in the box leading to HFX fullback Chrisnovic N’Sa blocking the ball right on the goal-line with his knees.
Fortunes changed for the Winnipeg club around that moment, as star defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste went down to injury and had to leave the game.
Later in the half, HFX were rewarded for their counter-attacking against Valour’s pressure. Akeem Garcia won a free kick on the edge of the box after a good run, and Alex De Carolis put it on target, deflecting his shot off Raphael Ohin en route to netting the first goal of the afternoon.
Not long after, the Wanderers punished another Valour error, as Cory Bent picked off a heavy touch from a defender and scored to make it 2-0.
The injury bug appeared to hit Valour again at halftime, as right-back Stefan Cebara was also forced out of the game for the rest of the game, and Chakib Hocine — the earlier replacement for Jean-Baptiste — left in the 78th. Ultimately, although Valour continued to control possession and took far more shots than their Maritime opponents, they weren’t able to pry open the HFX defence.
In the end, things went from bad to worse once more for Valour, as Federico Peña (on in relief of Hocine) drew a red card for a late tackle on Andre Rampersad.
Both sides wrap up their first rounds at The Island Games this weekend. Up first will be Valour FC, who will try to knock off defending champions Forge FC on Saturday (12:00 p.m. ET/1:00 p.m. AT). The following day, HFX Wanderers FC take on Atlético Ottawa (12:00 p.m. ET/1:00 p.m. AT).
36′ – Alex De Carolis (HFX Wanderers FC)
40′ – Cory Bent (HFX Wanderers FC)
35′ – Yellow: José Galán (Valour FC)
67′ – Yellow: Alex De Carolis (HFX Wanderers FC)
73′ – Yellow: Brett Levis (Valour FC)
88′ – Red: Federico Peña (Valour FC)
90+4′ – Yellow: Christian Oxner (HFX Wanderers FC)
Alex De Carolis (HFX Wanderers FC)
The opening goal aside, it was an excellent night on both sides of the ball for one of the more underrated fullbacks in the CPL. He made three clearances and two interceptions, linking up very well with fellow goalscorer Cory Bent.