Final Score: Valour FC 3-0 HFX Wanderers Goalscorers: Akio 38', Galhardo 45', Rea 66' Game of the 2021 season: 100 CPL match: 236
Match in a minute or lessNeeding to avoid a loss to keep their playoff hopes alive, Valour FC started their match against HFX Wanderers in another gear. It was one-way traffic throughout the first half and the hosts punished the visitors for their mistakes. The opener from William Akio and a chip from Rafael Galhardo made it 2-0 for Valour at the break. Despite making necessary substitutions in the second half, the Wanderers couldn't find a way to connect in the attacking third and Sean Rea's strike capped off a 3-0 win for the hosts. The result also sees Forge FC clinch a playoff spot.
Valour with fresh confidenceValour FC entered their last home match of the season with a particular game plan and they didn't settle for anything less. Right from the first whistle, the hosts were oozing with confidence and put the visitors to the test. Even though the first two goals came off of mistakes, they demonstrated Valour's intent and control of the match. A half-time they held 55 per cent possession, completed 84 per cent of their passes and had 11 shots with five on target. Coming out into the second half, they showed no signs of slowing down and continuously threatened the Wanderers' back line wanting to cap off their performance on a strong note. Finding this next gear late in the season is a boost for coach Phillip dos Santos' side and he's urging them to continue on the same path. "I told the guys that more importantly for me, the win was important, three goals were important but the performance is really what marked me the most," he said. "I really felt the energy of the guys was incredible from the first minute to the end. They never stopped, they never dropped those levels of intensity ... I want us to be a very, very difficult team to play against." "We're in the mix. We're in the fight. And this is where we want to be until the end."
Galhardo the key for Dos SantosWhile every Valour FC player was crucial to the team's success on Tuesday, Rafael Glahardo was firing on all cylinders for Dos Santos' side. And if he continues to do so, the coach admitted it will help the team's late push for the top four. "[Galhardo] has a pedigree that not a lot of players have in this league, and he's a player that when - and I don't like to say when he wants to - but if in the right frame of mind, if pushed the right way and triggered the right way, he could do special things on the field," he said. "When [Galhardo] is well, the team has bigger chances to win but that goes with every other player on the field. Today, it was a very good game for him. The thing is that he needs to repeat that in a few days because that's what makes the difference between an average player and a player that's going to stay at the top for many years. It's the consistency in which he's able to repeat performances and I think that [Galhardo] has more of that in him and hopefully brings it on on the weekend."
Wanderers a shadow of themselvesRight from the first whistle, HFX Wanderers struggled to get a foothold in this match. Coming into this fixture the Wanderers had put on some mediocre performances, not winning or losing games but frequently drawing them. But this time around at IG Field, the team looked a shadow of themselves throughout the entirety of the match. For the opening 20 minutes of the game, it felt as though they had yet to cross the halfway mark with the ball as they were restricted to their own half due to Valour's relentless press. Additionally, they only registered one shot on target all game and lacked any creativity to try and test the hosts. Head coach Stephen Hart was left visibly frustrated on the sidelines. Now the Wanderers settled in late in Winnipeg the night before after just coming off a game on Saturday so could fatigue have been a factor? Possibly. However, Hart downplayed that idea after the match. "No excuses. If you could run in the second half, you could run in the first," he said. "We were not tidy on the ball. We gifted them the first two goals ... Then the next thing you know you've got to chase the game and the third goal was a result of that." With only two regular-season matches remaining and both York United and Valour breathing down their necks, the Wanderers need to click back into gear soon if they don't want their season to end. Morey Doner addressed the idea that the team must regroup after the match. "We came in with confidence and with that motivation to take that playoff spot [but] it just wasn't there from the beginning," he said. "I think it was quite evident that we weren't up to the pace of the game. They were controlling things from the start and once they got the goal, it was really back against the wall." "[Losing 0-3] it's a worrying sign because we don't get beat like that, we don't get beat like that at all, so it's definitely something that we need to address as a unit," added Doner. Hart added the inability to be clinical in front of the goal as another factor that played a role in their defeat - something his side have struggled with the last few matches. "The only way I could describe our play was sloppy. We were sloppy in possession and we were sloppy when we did get our own chances in front of goal so you know if you play like that, you're going to get punished and we got punished," he said. "We did have chances to score a goal or maybe two, but we weren't clinical enough."
CanPL.ca Player of the MatchRafael Galhardo, Valour FC Over the 77 minutes he played on the pitch, Rafael Galhardo was pulling the strings for Valour. The Brazilian midfield maestro finished with four shots, four chances created and two tackles on the night.
What’s next?Valour FC will travel to Spruce Meadows for a clash against Cavalry FC on Saturday, October 30 at 1:30 pm MT/3:30 pm ET. HFX Wanderers, meanwhile, will take on Forge FC also on Saturday, October 30 at 1:00 pm ET. Watch all matches live on OneSoccer. In addition to its website and app, OneSoccer is now available on TELUS channel 980 and on Fubo TV. Call your local cable provider to ask for OneSoccer today.