By Daniel Clubbe.
The 2020 version of the Canadian Premier League moved into the group stage this week as the competition and host location Prince Edwards Island said goodbye to four teams.
The remaining four sides will now play each other once before the top two advance to the final on September 19.
The four sides doing battle over the next week are, HFX Wanderers, Pacific FC, Forge FC, and Calvary FC, the latter two looking to make it into back to back finals.
Here’s how the opening matches played out…
All matches behind closed doors at UPEI, Charlottetown, PEI
HFX Wanderers 1-1 Forge FC
The Wanderers got off to the worst possible start to the group stage when Alexander Achinioti-Jönsson stepped on the ball when advancing out of defence, allowing Joao Morelli to play a simple pass to Akeem Garcia. The forward made no mistake, the games’ top goalscorer putting HFX ahead inside three minutes.
Stephen Hart’s side maintained their lead until the break, however shortly after half-time controversy reigned when right-back Jake Ruby was adjudged to of blocked a Dan Krutzen shot with his hand. A penalty was awarded, although replays showed it may not have made contact with any part of the arm.
No matter for young Belgian Paolo Sabak who stepped up to stroke the spot-kick home to level the score at 1-1. Forge almost won it when Gabriel Wiethaeuper-Balbinotti got to the bouncing ball ahead of the Wanderers keeper, only to see his lobbed effort bounce wide.
A hard fought point from our first Group Stage match of the Island Games.
Akeem Garcia’s goal cancelled out by Sabak’s controversial pen.
HFX 1 – 1 FOR pic.twitter.com/X72kHYQ50Y
— HFX Wanderers FC (@HFXWanderersFC) September 9, 2020
Cavalry FC 3-1 Pacfiic FC
The Cavs’ dominated the early exchanges and their efforts were rewarded with a penalty when Abdou Samake lunged in on Mohamed Farsi in the box. Captain Nik Ledgerwood placing his penalty in the top right-hand corner as Callum Irving dived the wrong way.
Jordan Brown almost doubled the Calgary side’s lead when his effort was cleared off the line before former Man City youth player Elijah Adekugbe burst into the penalty area to make it 2-0. Fair reward for Tommy Wheeldon Jr’s men’s dominance up until this point.
Pacific did find way back into the match when a Josh Heard corner found its way into the back of the net off Cavs defender Dominick Zator. Pa Modou-Kah’s outfit began to grow into proceedings at this point, until the once again impressive Farsi stole the ball high up the field and sped into the area before firing home off the post to restore the two-goal lead, and with it secure the three points.
Group Stage Fixtures
Forge FC V Pacfific FC – Saturday
Cavalry FC v HFX Wanderers – Saturday