HFX Wanderers FC’s return to Halifax was a happy one on Friday, as they put two goals past the defending champions to beat Forge FC 2-0 and break a five-match winless run in the CPL.
Seemingly hit hard by the injury bug, the Wanderers entered the match with just three outfield players on the bench, deploying as much attacking firepower as they could with Joao Morelli and Akeem Garcia both dealing with injury. Forge also rotated the squad a little, with Baj Maan playing in goal in lieu of the suspended Triston Henry, and Monti Mohsen coming in to start at left fullback with Kwame Awuah missing out.
After opening the game on the front foot, HFX managed to get on the board early with a goal in the 12th minute. Alex Marshall, picking up a loose ball in the box, turned around his defender to unleash a tight-angle shot that goalkeeper Baj Maan deflected to his left, where Stefan Karajovanovic was waiting unmarked on the doorstep to bury his first goal for the Wanderers.
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Forge began to get a better foothold in the match after conceding, their best chance of the first half coming near the 25-minute mark when David Choinière appeared to have an open goal to shoot at, but HFX defender Peter Schaale was able to block the shot not far from the goal line and clear it away.
The visitors came out of halftime with an extra edge, hovering near two-thirds of possession for the first 15 minutes or so of the second half, but it was HFX who found the net again next. Just after the hour mark, Cory Bent delivered a corner kick right into the six-yard box, and it was Schaale who managed to win his aerial battle and score with a good header to make it 2-0 for the Wanderers.
Forge coach Bobby Smyrniotis sought to inject some extra energy into his side with a few substitutions — Paolo Sabak and Josh Navarro entered to try and help the attack — but the sturdy HFX defence refused to budge.
With three more points in the bag, the Wanderers leapfrogged FC Edmonton into sixth place in the CPL standings. Now at 17 points, they’re five back of Valour FC for the fourth and final playoff spot. Forge, meanwhile, remain in third with 25 points.
12′ — Stefan Karajovanovic (HFX Wanderers FC)
62′ — Peter Schaale (HFX Wanderers FC)
15′ — Yellow: Elimane Cisse (Forge FC)
28′ — Yellow: Kyle Bekker (Forge FC)