Cavalry FC are seven points clear at the top of the Canadian Premier League table after holding on for a tense 2-1 victory over the Halifax Wanderers at the Wanderers Grounds on Tuesday night. They now become the first team in the CPL this season to secure a playoff spot.
Maël Henry opened the scoring in the first half with his first CPL goal. Daan Klomp then added his third of the season from a corner kick early in the second half before Dan Nimick struck back both in the match and Defender of Year race with a goal of his own in the 79th — the lone goal for Halifax despite a strong late push.
With the loss, Halifax remain in fourth place in the CPL table, however lose their game in hand on sixth place York United and could now be jumped by fifth place Atlético Ottawa tomorrow should they pick up a draw or a win against Pacific. Cavalry, meanwhile, ended a highly successful East Coast road trip with two wins and a draw. The league leaders have now won four of their last five.
Cavalry youngster Gareth Smith-Goyle, who was playing up top in this match with leading scorer Myer Bevan starting on the bench, thought he had opened the scoring in the ninth minute. His header, however, was ruled offside denying the striker what would have been his first goal of the season.
Looking to keep possession, both sides had some dangerous turnovers in the opening moments of the match that led to chances. Halifax, in particular, were guilty of being a bit too cute in possession and invited pressure from the visitors in the risk/reward way they have played at times throughout this season.
This led to a number of corners, in particular, for the Cavs in the early going. On the second phase of their fourth corner of the match, in the 27th minute, Bradley Kamdem sent the ball wide to Henry. The 19-year-old Cavs player sent in a dangerous cross that fooled everyone and ultimately curled past Fillion untouched and into the back of the net to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
Just a few minutes later, on another set piece opportunity on a foul won by Henry, Charlie Trafford sent a deflected header that rattled off the crossbar. On the restart, yet another Halifax giveaway saw Sergio Camargo get in behind, only for the attacker’s shot to drift just wide.
The hosts nearly equalized in the 35th minute, with a cross from João Morelli bouncing off the pitch and forcing an uncomfortable stop from Marco Carducci, with the rebound cleared brilliantly by Daan Klomp. That, unfortunately, would be nearly the last action of the match for the Brazilian who had the be replaced by Aidan Daniels in the 38th minute.
Cavalry looked sure to score a second in first-half stoppage time, with a cross deflecting into Camargo’s path all alone inside the Halifax box. His strike, however, was brilliantly denied by the outstretched leg of Fillion. As a result, the score remained 1-0 for Cavalry heading into the half.
On the other side of halftime, Cavalry were forced to make a substitute of their own as Trafford, who was a big part of their success in the first half, was removed and replaced by Tom Field. Just as he did in the first half, Smith-Doyle came very close to scoring an early goal with a rocket from out wide that just went wide of the top corner.
The Cavs then doubled their lead in the 54th minute, on yet another corner kick. This time it was a direct cross from Ali Musse that found Klomp at the near post. The Cavalry Defender of the Year candidate headed home his third of the season to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.
Needing a way back into the match, Halifax brought young striker Tiago Coimbra into the match, and the teenager nearly made an instant impact as he forced a giveaway from Carducci. Unfortunately for the hosts, Jordan Perruzza’s subsequent half-volley attempt with Carducci out of the net was well over the bar.
In the 78th minute, however, Halifax were given a lifeline as Massimo Ferrin was brought down in the box. Nimick stepped up and smashed home his fifth of the season to cut the Cavalry lead to one.
Just a minute later, Nimick found the back of the net again from a header from a corner kick. However, the referee’s whistle had gone moments earlier for a foul in the Cavalry box. The Wanderers kept pushing in front of a boisterous crowd in Halifax. In stoppage time, Cale Loughrey nearly played hero as he found himself alone in the box, but his redirection was ultimately easily gathered by Carducci.
It was the first time this season that the Halifax Wanderers have lost back-to-back matches at home. They have won just once in their last five matches, critically dropping points against four sides currently close to them in the table.
27′ — Maël Henry (Cavalry FC)
54′ — Daan Klomp (Cavalry FC)
79′ — Daniel Nimick (Halifax Wanderers) — Pen.
3′ — Yellow: Charlie Trafford (Cavalry FC)
43′ — Yellow: Riley Ferrazzo (Halifax Wanderers)
47′ — Yellow: Eryk Kobza (Cavalry FC)
47′ — Yellow: Sergio Camargo (Cavalry FC)
52′ — Yellow: Cale Loughrey (Halifax Wanderers)
70′ — Yellow: Tiago Coimbra (Halifax Wanderers)
88′ — Yellow: Bradley Kamdem (Cavalry FC)
90+3′ — Yellow: Marco Carducci (Cavalry FC)
90+6′ — Yellow: Callum Watson (Halifax Wanderers)