Valour left ‘scratching their heads’ after season-jeopardizing loss to HFX

Staring into the video camera from Prince Edward Island, coach Rob Gale paused when asked how to summarize Valour FC’s 2-0 loss to HFX Wanderers at The Island Games on Wednesday.

Gale, with the frustrations of a potential season-ending loss clearly etched on his face, opened his mouth and gave a simple reply.


A pair of first-half Wanderers goals sunk Valour on the day and put them in a dire position. Now they face a tough task of getting a result against Forge FC (12pm ET/1pmAT, OneSoccer/CBC) on Saturday in their opening group stage finale.

It all looked so promising at the start vs. HFX for Valour, who enjoyed the run-of-play in the first half and generated decent opportunities by getting in behind the Wanderers’ defence. But a goal-line clearance from HFX fullback Chrisnovic N’Sa was as close as Valour came to scoring.

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“What, we had 66 per cent possession, maybe had more than that by the time those goals came,” Gale stated. “Coming from two goals down, we were scratching our heads.

“We were the better footballing team throughout the match but that evolution from possession to chances on goal and that just didn’t come.

“A soft foul and deflection, and a mistake at the back by Stefan (Cebara) that was probably caused by a hamstring issue. We needed a break. What did they get; a deflection on a breakaway on a defensive mistake.”

Defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste left the game in the first half due to injury and was replaced by former Wanderer Chakib Hocine, who ended up going down in his Valour debut and was replaced by Federico Peña. Valour’s day went from bad to worse in the 88th minute when Peña was sent off because of a late foul.

The series of defensive substitutions left Gale rightfully frustrated.

“We were just desperately unlucky with defensive substitutions and injuries, there’s no way to get around that,” Gale said. “All reactive substitutions, instead of trying to change the game. “[Failing to score] was an element of back luck because we couldn’t bring on attackers.”

Gale freely proclaimed the soccer gods weren’t on their side Wednesday, but hopes for a few of those aforementioned “breaks” to go his way on Saturday vs. Forge.

“We’ll welcome all prayers because the football gods were not on our side today,” Gale said.

“Games are decided by tiny, tiny margins here. Anything can happen.”

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