2022 CPL Regular Season — Match #23 HFX Wanderers FC vs. Cavalry FC May 15, 2022 at 3 p.m. AT/2 p.m. ET Wanderers Grounds in Halifax, Nova Scotia Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca // Tickets available here

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For the first time since the inaugural Canadian Premier League season, Cavalry will pay a visit to the Wanderers Grounds in Halifax on Sunday. The two sides met twice in the Winnipeg bubble, and once more at ATCO Field in 2021. Cavalry had the better of those three matches, with one win and two draws. Halifax only managed a single goal against the Cavs last year. That has been a bit of a theme, as Halifax will be looking for just their second win against the Alberta side, with just one through ten all-time meetings. That lone win against Cavalry came during the group stage of the 2020 Island Games, a result that ultimately helped HFX book a place in the final. Neither club has ever scored more than two goals in a match against the other. Only 17 goals have been scored in total in their 10 meetings. Nothing has changed in their defensive abilities this year, as both HFX (4 goals against) and Cavalry (5) have been among the best in the league at limiting both goals and chances against. "They've always been tightly contested games," said Cavalry head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. "I think we've got a very good record against them but Wanderers Ground is a tough place to go. It is one not too dissimilar to ours, it is an intimate stadium on grass, great pitch and I think the fans are brilliant. We actually look forward to going." It is also a meeting of two of the hottest teams in the Canadian Premier League, as both HFX and Cavalry are undefeated in their last three games in all competitions. Both picked up wins midweek in the Canadian Championship, with Halifax blanking League1 Ontario champs Guelph United 2-0, and Cavalry beating rival FC Edmonton 2-1. "I think it will be a tight game, they are in a good moment, we're in a good moment as well and they are a very good team," said Wanderers head coach Stephen Hart. "We expect they will come and play in a brave way, that's the way Tommy does it, he likes to be on the front foot, I don't think it will be any different tomorrow." Cavalry has been particularly in form, winning all of their last three matches, beating league-leaders Pacific in their home opener (2-0), before a double-header victory over Edmonton (3-0, 2-1). Wheeldon Jr. has been impressed with all facets of his team during that stretch. In particular, he mentioned how many different attackers have made an impact in recent matches, either scoring goals or setting them up. Plus, with Marco Carducci returning, Cavalry has only conceded once in the last three games. "I think we've just balanced on both sides of the ball really," said Wheeldon Jr. Coincidentally, FC Edmonton is also the only side who have managed to score on HFX over the past three matches. The Wanderers beat Edmonton 3-1 in their lone home match of the season so far, building off one of the best home records in the league from last season (five wins, three draws, and two losses in matches played in Halifax). But while they have been defensively resilient so far this season, allowing the fewest expected goals per 90 in the entire league, they have only scored five goals in five league matches this season. Three of those goals, as aforementioned, came against Edmonton. With that in mind, the Wanderers announced the signing this week of Senegalese/Canadian striker Mour Samb. The 28-year-old spent time with the Ottawa Fury in 2019, where he played alongside Aidan Daniels and Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé, scoring 8 goals that season. The attacker, however, isn't yet in game shape and will not be involved against Cavalry.

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3 THINGS TO WATCH:

  • Midfield Battle key to success: Two of the best midfields in the Canadian Premier League are set to clash on Sunday in what will be a very intriguing matchup. Including some combination of Andre Rampersad, Pierre Lamothe, Aidan Daniels and Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé, HFX generally deploy a three-man midfield that boasts both tactical flexibilities, is comfortable in possession and also very difficult to break down defensively. Rampersad and Gagnon-Laparé are among the league leaders in passes completed, while Daniels showed off his immense talent with an incredible goal against Guelph this past week. Wheeldon Jr., meanwhile, highlighted the abilities of three of his midfielders in particular in the pre-match press conference: the attacking skill of number 10 and team-leading scorer Ali Musse, the box-to-box ability of youngster Victor Loturi, and the holding play of former Wanderers midfielder Elliot Simmons. Cavalry has shown some tactical flexibility in recent matches, switching to a 4-1-4-1 that helped them dominate FC Edmonton. "I think it is two contrasting midfield styles which makes for an even better chess match," said Tommy Wheeldon Jr, later adding, "to put it up against there's, I've got nothing but credit, they've got a strong midfield and you are seeing that in the games that they are playing and it is certainly going to be a key part of the tactical gameplan come Sunday."​
  • Injuries mounting for Cavalry: The Cavs have never had much luck when it comes to injuries, and this week they got some more bad news. Fullback Fraser Aird will miss the rest of the season with an ACL injury, joining Tyson Farago, Tom Field, Joseph Di Chiara and Anthony Novak on the long-term injury list. Joe Mason, David Norman Jr. and Sergio Camargo will also be unavailable this weekend. The good news, however, is that all three of those aforementioned players are expected to return to training on Monday. Elijah Adekugbe and Charlie Trafford will also travel to the east coast this weekend and should be available if called upon, and new signing Bradley Vliet debuted at fullback this week. One other positive, especially with Mason out, has been the play of New Zealand international Myer Bevan. The forward scored both Cavalry goals against Edmonton midweek in the Canadian Championship, opening his account for the season. "It is a great time for Myer to keep himself in the side based on merit and not on circumstance".​
  • Wanderers Grounds remains one of the toughest venues in the CPL: It is no coincidence that the biggest win of Halifax's season so far came at home. Since beating Forge 2-1 in their first-ever game at the Wanderers Ground, Halifax has only ever lost four times when playing at the venue in 24 Canadian Premier League matches. "I think it is a little bit of everything," said Hart when asked about what makes it such a tricky away date. "Let's be fair to a lot of teams they have to travel in here, and of course, we have a fantastic atmosphere which you know it's one of those things that if you don't come from that environment it can really spoil a team. For us, we thrive on that". He did mention, however, that Cavalry is one of the sides in the league that are used to having boisterous home crowds of their own. Cavalry has actually been the exception to the rule at Wanderers Ground. They have won on both of their visits to Halifax, counting for two of those aforementioned four all-time losses.



ALL-TIME SERIES

HFX Wanderers wins: 1 || Cavalry wins: 6 || Draws: 3

Previous match:

October 17, 2021 -- Cavalry FC 0-0 HFX Wanderers



KEY QUOTES

"The midfield for me is the most important part of the game and you are going to see two very balanced midfields match up tomorrow." -- HFX Wanderers head coach Stephen Hart "We are looking forward to the trip because you know you are guaranteed a very good game. Stephen Hart always puts in an organized tactically detailed team out and they are tough to beat. They've created that ethos across the club, but we salivate at these opportunities to go and do what others can't and hopefully we can do that over the weekend." -- Cavalry FC head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr.

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