Cavalry FC Dispatch Halifax Wanderers To Top Table
Cavalry FC squared off against the Halifax Wanderers this evening in a tight match that saw goals from Nathan Mavila and Jordan Brown secure all three points for Cavalry FC, sending the Alberta-based club to the top of the Island Games’ table.
The Wanderers, who nearly saw a comeback started by Akeem Garcia, stay outside of a playoff spot for the time being, though the bottom six teams all rest within two points of one another.
Tommy Wheeldon Jr. fielded a heavily rotated squad for the match with Nikos Giantsopoulos in net, Haber starting up top, and Bruno Zebie and Dean Northover earning starts in midfield. In all, there were no less than six changes to his startup lineup from the Al Classico matchup against FC Edmonton a few days before.
The Halifax Wanderers confirmed that both Christian Oxner and Omar Kreim were now fit following their respective injuries, though both assumed roles on the bench. A 4-3-3 formation saw big target man Ibrahima Sanoh (who scored in the club’s season opener) start, with Joao Morelli and Cory Bent on the wings. Jason Beaulieu started between the sticks, suggesting that Oxner may have some work to do to win the starting spot back.
The Wanderers side that held reigning champions Forge FC to a draw a few days ago opened the game with confidence, instilling a high press and putting plenty of early pretty sure on the Alberta-based side. Still, Cavalry FC momentarily looked to have earned the go-ahead goal ten minutes into the match when the sides fought for possession in the Wanderers box, with Haber forcing the ball over the line – but he elbowed Beaulieu in the process, with the referee calling for a foul.
Cavalry FC would get the lead in quite some fashion as defender Nathan Mavila curled in an outrageous ball from the left wing, with what was likely intended to be a cross catching Beaulieu off-guard and finding its way into the net for Mavila’s second goal of the campaign:
Despite dropping behind, the Halifax Wanderers continued to press in the attack with Cory Bent finding himself a shade offside on multiple occasions. At the end of the first half, there really wasn’t too much to separate the sides: while the Wanderers were losing, they’ve proven to be a side capable of squaring up against last year’s top teams.
Half-time saw Wheeldon Jr. replace Toronto FC loanee Robert Boskovic with Elliot Simmons, giving the youngster a run out against his former side. Hart, meanwhile, made an adjustment of his own by replacing Ibrahima Sanoh with Akeem Garcia, who scored in the club’s last match against Forge FC. A few minutes after coming on, he proved to be dangerous once again by forcing Giantsopoulos to concede a corner with an effort that looked to destined for the post.
After erring to concede the game’s first goal, Jason Beaulieu came up big against Marcus Haber not long after that, with the duo locked in a one-on-one that saw the six-foot-four goalkeeper make a great save with his legs.
A late game substation also saw former Pacific FC youngster Jose Hernandez make his debut for Cavalry, replacing target man Marcus Haber in the eighty-second minute. The 20-year-old made history back in December for becoming the first intra-league transfer in CPL history.
Absolute theatrics would ensue moments later, with West Ham Academy product Jordan Brown beating Jason Beaulieu to the ball, collecting his own rebound, and slipping ahead of an open net. His side regained possession while the Halifax defense scrambled, but were ultimately unable to convert the chance.
The striker would make amends in the final minute of regular time, taking the ball with his back to the goal, turning Jems Geffrard, and firing home the insurance goal. That means that Jordan Brown now leads the golden boot race after scoring three goals from his last two games.
That goal ended up being quite important for Cavalry FC, with Jay Wheeldon being called out for a blatant handball moments later to give the Wanderers a chance from the penalty spot. Akeem Garcia stepped up to take it, scoring his second goal of the tournament.
A last-gasp Akeem Garcia shot would be blocked just in front of the net, with the whistle then blowing to end a 2-1 match in favour of the Alberta-based side.
Cavalry FC remain undefeated in regular season action, with Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s side now having four days of rest before playing Atletico Ottawa for the first time this Thursday.
The Halifax Wanderers will have one less day of rest, and will square of against bottom-placed side FC Edmonton this Wednesday. Given that the Wanderers themselves came last a year ago, one feels the match will see both sides come out with a lot to prove.
Header Image Photo Credit: OneSoccer / Nora Stankovic