HFX Wanderers 2-1 Forge FC: Wanderers Make CPL Playoffs
In what was a dramatic game at Wanderers Grounds, the HFX Wanderers managed to hold their nerve and defeat Forge 2-1. The result clinched a CPL playoff spot for Patrice Gheisar’s side.
Having lost in heartbreaking fashion to Vancouver FC last weekend, four changes were made to the Wanderers’ starting eleven. A place in the CPL playoffs would be official should they avoid defeat.
For Forge, a 3-1 victory over Pacific last weekend combined with several other results meant that the Hammers not only locked down a playoff spot, but also a home game in the playoffs. There were one change made to their starting lineup from last match.
The first shot of note came seven and a half minutes in. Beni Badibanga was afforded the space to swivel and fire a shot off. Unfortunately for the winger, his attempt went straight to Yann Fillion.
Twelve minutes in, the hosts took the lead. Off a throw in, Jake Ruby whipped in a dangerous ball in the box, with Massimo Ferrin’s head meeting the cross. Ferrin’s header beat Trison Henry, who was helpless given the quality of the cross and header.
The Wanderers nearly doubled their lead ten minutes later. On a counter attack, Aidan Daniels took a shot that took a deflection off of Alexander Achiniotti-Jonsson and dangerously close to finding the net.
In the 34th minute, the Hammers got their equalizer. Badibanga chipped a ball over to Rezart Rama, who flicked it down to Manjrekar James, who played it down to Woobens Pacius. With Fillion already beaten, it was a tap-in for Pacius to tie the game.
The Wanderers received a penalty just moments before the half. After Rama denied Coimbra on the line, Hojabrpour fouled Ferrin, with the referee pointing to the spot. Dan Nimick stepped up and sent Henry the wrong way to give the home side the lead again.
A few minutes after the restart, Kyle Bekker did well to win a couple of duels and fire a shot away. However, Fillion had no troubles gathering the ball. Minutes later, Daniels went the other way for Halifax, just dragging his attempt wide.
Just seconds after coming on, Riley Ferrazzo nearly scored a third for the Wanderers. Going for goal, his shot was denied by Rama, who for the second time in the game, had to make a save close to the goal line.
Badibanga went for another free kick shortly after the hour. While he has already scored a pair of goals from dead balls, this attempt failed to hit the target.
Forge continued to press for the equalizer, and nearly found it via James. The center back-turned-striker marauded forward, creating enough space for a shot. He was unable to beat Fillion, who managed to get down and parry the ball away.
Late on, Jordan Hamilton managed to beat his marker before firing a shot on goal which was deflected. It was another dangerous attempt for Forge, but the Wanderers stood firm.
Fillion again came to the Wanderer’s rescue in stoppage time: the last serious effort of the game came from Pacius, who had a moment to compose himself in the box before going for goal. Yet, Pacius was unable to get it past Fillion, who denied the striker.
The game ended 2-1 for the home side, who moved on to 39 points. At the time of writing, they can still finish as high as second if they win at Valour next weekend and other results go their way. What is certain, however, is that they will be involved in the postseason. Moreover, if York avoids defeat versus Atlético Ottawa, Halifax will be hosting a playoff game.
As for Forge, they currently remain second despite the defeat. With 42 points from 27 games, they can still hold on to second spot with a win next weekend and Pacific does not pick up more than three points. Forge’s regular season will conclude at home to Atletico Ottawa.