Former T&T senior men’s national football team coach Stephen Hart and the HFX Wanderers FC, featuring T&T trio, Akeem Garcia, Andre Rampersad and ex-national goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams kept their chance of qualifying to the Canadian Premier Soccer League playoffs via hard-fought 2-0 win over Valour FC on Wednesday, or you’ll be punished for it.
It was a huge result for Wanderers, who would have been eliminated from contention with a loss.
With the win, HFX moved into fourth place in the CPL table with nine points from six matches— a spot they’ll hold on to at least until the weekend’s matches, thanks to Pacific FC’s defeat on Wednesday night.
Valour opened the proceedings with plenty of time spent in HFX’s end but did not produce an overwhelming amount of threatening shots.
They did come achingly close at one point, with a scramble in the box leading to HFX fullback Chrisnovic N’Sa blocking the ball right on the goal-line with his knees.
Fortunes changed for the Winnipeg club around that moment, as star defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste went down to injury and had to leave the game.
In the end, things went from bad to worse once more for Valour, as Federico Peña drew a red card for a late tackle on Rampersad.
Both sides wrap up their first rounds at The Island Games this weekend. Up first will be Valour FC, who will try to knock off defending champions Forge FC on Saturday while on Sunday, HFX Wanderers FC takes on Atlético Ottawa.
Speaking after the contest, San Fernando, T&T-born Hart admitted, “I think coming on the back of such an emotional and physical game the other day, I had a feeling we would slump a bit.
He added, “I really wanted us to go out there and put the game on top of them, and force them to play quicker than they were comfortable. But I soon realized that a number of the starters just didn’t have the legs.”
The emotional game Hart referred to was, of course, the Wanderers’ 1-1 draw with York9 FC, which saw them equalise in the 91st minute despite playing 70 minutes with just 10 men.
Another T&T player with an eye on competing in the playoffs in T&T striker, Canada-born Ryan Telfer after his York9 FC secured a 1-0 win of Kareem Moses FC Edmonton.
Manny Aparicio’s free-kick goal was the difference on Tuesday night for York9 FC, to grab the vital three points and set up a massive weekend at The Island Games in the process.
The result, which officially eliminated cellar-placed Edmonton from contention, put York9 FC in a great position to qualify for the second round: They sit third in the table with ten points, the same as Cavalry FC and one behind Forge FC, ahead of their contest Cavalry FC on Saturday.