The Wanderers Recap: The First Straightforward Win
Historically, the HFX Wanderers have found winning to be less than straightforward. Part of that has been the skill level of Wanderers teams in the past, but even with that, you’d expect the club to have at least a few convincing wins in their history. While the team has had their share of big wins, the win against Vancouver FC is the first in recent memory which felt like it was done and dusted from the early minutes and never seemed like the result could be flipped on its head, like Cavalry versus Valour.
While this makes for a less than controversial match recap (unlike last week’s Wanderer’s Recap), there are still key points to be discussed.
The game started hot for the HFX Wanderers. Quick, clean passing that would create chances from their first possessions was clearly the team directive, and it paid off quickly. With delightful cross-field balls, Vancouver FC was stretched thin early, and after an excellent cross by Andre Rampersad, Joao Morelli cleanly finished it with a side-foot volley into the top-left corner.
This goal by Joao Morelli was his 22nd in a Wanderers shirt, which breaks Akeem Garcia’s record for the most in club history. This achievement is well deserved for Morelli, especially after a lengthy rehab. As a Wanderers fan, you will be overjoyed to see Morelli find his scoring boots. As a rival fan, you will start to get worried that this could only strengthen a dangerous-looking Wanderers team.
After the goal, there was a short stretch of the game where Vancouver FC looked dangerous. This came late in the first half, but Yann Fillion and the entire backline did an excellent job of making whatever scoring opportunities VFC had difficult at best. Going into the second half, some Wanderers fans will have certainly felt nervous that there would be another come from behind victory in the CPL after Cavalry collapsed against Valour, but that nervousness was short-lived.
In the 57th minute, referee Ben Hoskins awarded the Wanderers a penalty (a week too late) that was created by excellent interplay between the Wanderers forwards. From a neutral perspective, the call could have gone either way, but karma awarded it to the Wanderers. Dan Nimick held onto the ball in the lead-up, acting as a decoy before handing it off to Joao Morelli. Morelli, who has never missed a penalty for the club, coolly stepped up and slotted it past Callum Irving to give the Wanderers a 2-0 lead, and Morelli his 23rd goal for the club, and CPL record, eighth two-goal game.
Eight minutes after Morelli scored his third goal of the season, Massimo Ferrin was sent-in one-on-one with the goalie, and, following Morelli’s calm footsteps, he blew it past Irving and into the back of the net. This summed up the match between the two clubs, as the Wanderers looked faster, more committed, and resilient, whereas Vancouver looked completely uninterested come the 60th minute.
With this win over Vancouver, the Wanderers have 28 points after 19 games, just one back of Forge, who is third with 29 after 19 games. The Wanderers continue to be in control of their own destiny, as they are ahead of Vancouver, Valour and York United after 19 games, which would place the Wanderers in either the fourth or fifth playoff spot if the season ended this weekend. With the majority of their remaining matches coming at home, the Wanderers will be pushing for a top-three spot and believe that a league title is still within their grasp.
Joao Morelli is now two goals clear of Akeem Garcia for first place in goal-scoring and goal contributions in HFX Wanderers history. The next closest active player is 18 goals away (Aidan Daniels and Massimo Ferrin both have five in all-competitions) and 16 goal contributions away (Aidan Daniels)
Andre Rampersad now holds the sole lead for assists for the HFX Wanderers. He has six in all competitions. Zachary Fernandez and Lorenzo Callegari are the next best active players, who have four each, just two back of Rampersad.
Yann Fillion is now second all-time for goalie wins with seven. He eleven back of the all-time leader, Christian Oxner.
Header Image Photo Credit: Canadian Premier League