2021 CPL regular season — Match #85
HFX Wanderers FC vs. Forge FC
October 6, 2021 at 7 pm AT/ 6 pm ET
Wanderers Grounds in Halifax, Nova Scotia
Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here
The third meeting of the season between the two 2020 CPL finalists will take place on Wednesday night, as Forge FC head to Nova Scotia to take on HFX Wanderers.
The reigning CPL champions Forge are unbeaten in their last five matches in all competitions — including advancing in the Canadian Championship and Concacaf League competitions. Most recently they played Atletico Ottawa at TD Place, picking up three points on the road with a dominant 3-0 victory.
David Choinière scored early on for The Hammers, before Daniel Krutzen and Woobens Pacius added goals in the second half, as Forge locked things down defensively to hold onto a clean sheet.
The Wanderers have lost just once in their last twelve matches, a tight match in the Canadian Championship against Major League Soccer side CF Montreal. Ten of those twelve matches were in CPL action — a cup victory over AS Blainville the other — as the Wanderers continue to charge toward the top four, and a spot in the playoffs.
They last played on Sunday, drawing 2-2 with York United — the other team in what appears to be a two-horse race for that fourth and final playoff ticket. Akeem Garcia got back on the scoresheet, and Mamadi Camara added a second for the visitors, but a late equalizer from Julian Ulbricht prevented HFX from overtaking The Nine Stripes in the standings.
Forge and HFX have met twice already this season, once in Hamilton and once in Halifax. They played out a 1-1 draw at Tim Hortons Field on August 22, with a late Kwame Awuah goal rescuing a point for the home side. In the rematch at Wanderers Grounds on September 3, Stefan Karajovanovic and Peter Schaale found the back of the net in a 2-0 victory.
This will be the third of five meetings between the two in the regular season, as they will play each other again on October 23 at Wanderers Grounds, and October 30 at Tim Hortons Field.
Despite their dominance over the first two CPL seasons, Forge FC have never won at Wanderers Grounds, losing once and drawing once at Wanderers Grounds in 2019. They did beat them in Atlantic Canada in 2020, however, with a 2-0 victory in the aforementioned 2020 CPL Final in PEI.
Forge defender Daniel Krutzen said that the fans in the CPL, including in Halifax, are “definitely a factor” in games. “I don’t think we’ve ever won in Halifax. Playing away is always different than playing at home, so there’s an extra factor of the crowd that comes into play, but I think we as a team have managed that well in the past, and we’ll just continue doing that.”
Make your match picks prior to kickoff at canpl.ca/predictor for a chance to win prizes, including the grand prize of a trip to the 2021 CPL Final!
All CPL matches are available to stream on OneSoccer, or on TELUS Optik TV Channel 980.
3 THINGS TO WATCH:
- HFX need to pick up wins at Wanderers Grounds during playoff push: Wanderers Grounds has been a fortress for the Nova Scotian side over the first few years of the CPL. Regularly packing the venue, Wanderers fans create an electric atmosphere — one that the players will need to take advantage of to make the most of their remaining home games in the push for the playoffs. After Wednesday’s game, they have three more home games — against Pacific FC on October 11, Forge again on October 23, and the final match of the regular season against Atletico Ottawa on November 7. “It’s where you’re most comfortable, there’s no travel involved,” said Wanderers boss Stephen Hart in his pregame press conference. “We got back here on Monday morning, so preparation was limited, but we are at home, we have our crowd behind us. We need to be fully concentrated at the back, and when the chances do come, take them.”
- Flexibility important for Forge down the stretch: Forge FC have the depth and willingness to try different things that some other teams can’t afford to do, and with that comes the ability to change things up to keep opponents guessing. On the weekend against Atletico Ottawa, Tristan Borges played a midfield role, and Kwame Awuah often drifted inside from left back to play as a holding midfielder — also showing Forge’s ability to make changes mid-game. “I think it’s important as we get guys healthy now — especially in the attacking part of the field — that we also use a lot of variants in the way we’re playing… Ottawa was a team where that was our fourth game against them, I think you need to be different,” said head coach Bobby Smyrniotis. “You can’t just go into each and every game doing the same thing, or employing the players in the same spots on the field. The one thing we have is a lot of flexibility and movement of the players — playing in wide positions and playing on the opposite foot on the wings to come inside. Borges is a player who can play inside in midfield, on either side of it, on either side of the wings — so it’s something we need to take advantage of as we get these games.”
- Wanderers need to take advantage of scoring chances: With a forward like Joao Morelli, who is currently running away with the lead for the CPL’s Golden Boot, HFX always have a chance to win every game, but occasionally struggle to find goals from other sources. Against York on the weekend they got goals from Akeem Garcia and Mamadi Camara, as the offence performed well without their Brazilian talisman, but a late equalizer denied them three points. Stephen Hart was optimistic in his pregame press conference that his side will take advantage of their opportunities when they get them. “We have to be cognizant of the fact that we’re at home, and we cannot play with any sort of fear,” said Hart. “On the same token, we know what Forge is about, they’ve proven to be very resilient at the back, not giving up a lot of chances. Hopefully the chances we do get, we make them count.”
HFX Wanderers wins: 2 || Forge FC wins: 2 || Draws: 5
Sept. 3, 2021 — HFX Wanderers 2-0 Forge FC
“They’ve made a couple of additions, it’s a team that’s well-seasoned. We know what they’re about, they’re very, very patient, move the ball around well and wait for the opportunities. We just have to be aware of that.” — HFX Wanderers head coach Stephen Hart
“We haven’t had the best results going out to Halifax, going back to 2019. That was a game (the last time they played in Halifax) where we weren’t at our best. It took us a while to get into the game, and we gave them two gifts, which we know is something you can’t do against a team like that. They’re very good on the defensive side, and locking things up in front of their goal, and they’re a good opportunistic team in the attack.” — Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis