A tepid first half turned into a back-and-forth second at Investors Group Field, as HFX Wanderers FC suffered a narrow defeat away to Valour FC, with the Winnipeg-based outfit’s Calum Ferguson scoring his first goal to settle the match on Saturday.
The only goal of this tilt came in the 47th minute, Dylan Sacramento picking out Ali Musse with a cutting through pass, before Musse plucked Ferguson out with a driven cross. The 24-year-old striker beat HFX defender Chrisnovic N’sa to the ball and smartly finished, despite facing immediate pressure by onrushing opposition goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams.
The Wanderers crafted a handful of chances, with Peter Schaale threatening twice in the first half, and both Kodai Iida and Akeem Garcia coming close with missed shots in the second. However, Valour goalkeeper Mathias Janssens, deputizing for a rested Tyson Farago, ensured his clean sheet through a series of admirable saves.
Marco Bustos of Valour, making his debut in front of his hometown crowd, tested Williams late in the match with a clear shot on goal, but couldn’t get his attempt past the experienced Trinidad and Tobago net-minder.
It was the final attempt of the day, and while it wasn’t pretty, Valour head coach Rob Gale will be pleased with the victory at home nonetheless, despite losing defender Adam Mitter to a shoulder injury in the 41st minute of play.
Valour returns to Investors Group Field on May 18, hosting Forge FC in a match with CONCACAF League implications (8:00 p.m. ET, 7:00 p.m. CT, available on OneSoccer). Meanwhile, the Wanderers switch tracks to Canadian Championship action, travelling to Vaughan, Ontario to take on League1 Ontario champions Vaughan Azzurri in the first of two legs in the opening round of Voyageurs Cup action (7:00 p.m. ET/8:00 p.m. AT, available on OneSoccer).
Three key performers
Calum Ferguson (Valour FC)
You’re always going to be a standout when you score the game-winning (and only) goal for your team, but credit must go to Ferguson for putting in a solid shift throughout, too. His goal will be the talking point, naturally, and deservedly so – Ferguson’s cool finish under pressure proved the difference between two teams locked in a tough battle.
Peter Schaale (HFX Wanderers FC)
Strong on both ends of the ball, the HFX defender had two chances to score in the first half, but was also the genesis of many of his team’s attacking movements throughout the match, pinging long passes and setting up his teammates from the backline. Schaale also put in a solid shift on the defensive foot, winning all but one of his duels.
Marco Bustos (Valour FC)
It was an impressive debut for 23-year-old Marco Bustos, the Winnipeg native who joined Valour FC earlier in the week. He lead his team in total touches, passes, crosses, shots, and shots on target, and was all over the park in midfield, up top, and out wide. That versatility and involvement, coupled with his quality and experiences, make him a new key figure for this team.