Valour FC needs to score on Wednesday in the second leg of their Canadian Championship tie with HFX Wanderers FC.
“The beauty of it is, we know exactly what we need to do,” Valour head coach Rob Gale said in a pre-match press conference at IG Field. “Manage the game, make sure we play patiently. It’s only a one-goal deficit, right?
“We know what we gotta do. We need to win the game 1-0 or better.”
Gale’s side is in this one-goal hole due to a 2-1 result in leg one at Wanderers Grounds in Halifax. Marco Bustos gave the Winnipeg side an away goal heading home.
“Everyone knows we need to score, and we need to win, so I think it’s about feeling into the game slowly,” Bustos said.
The Wanderers travel to IG Field missing Tomasz Skublak and Andre Rampersad, who are suspended due to yellow card accumulation. Skublak was key to the Wanderers’ first-leg win, scoring a goal and linking up play well as a centre-forward.
“Going home all [Valour] need to do is win 1-0 so there is a lot of work for us to do,” HFX Wanderers head coach Stephen Hart said. “We’ve got to show more composure and do the right things in terms of our finishing.”
Valour’s attacking, possession-based style of play was on full display away to the Wanderers, who have yet to hold a clean sheet in 2019. Gale’s side has averaged 55% possession over the past four matches, including 57% away to the Wanderers. While that amount of possession didn’t lead to an away win in Halifax, Valour’s style is certainly creating an opportunity to do so. Valour is second in chance creation in the CPL (55), right behind the other “possession-first” side, Forge FC (65), which has played an additional match in the league. But Valour has only scored five goals from those chances; Forge has scored 12.
“We gotta be purposeful in possession – the number of completed passes forward, the number of chances created,” Gale said. “I’m a fan of this team, I want us to play football in the right way. If you want to want to watch rubbish football, go somewhere else.”
Gale revealed Tuesday he expects to have the services of Skylar Thomas in the second leg, whose status was questionable after leaving the first leg in the 68th minute with an injury.
Meanwhile, the Wanderers, without the services of Skublak – and with Luis Perea unlikely to travel to Winnipeg – will likely need to look to its forward depth to close out the tie.
“They’re at home so it’s going to be hard to go there and get the result but I know we have the team to do it, so we just have to go there and play our football,” winger Mohammed Kourouma said.
The winner of this CanChamp tie will move on to play USL side Ottawa Fury in Qualifying Round 3 slated for July.