Calgary Herald

Weary Cavalry happy to escape with the draw

Wheeldon accentuate­s the positives in stalemate with winless Wanderers

- TODD SAELHOF tsaelhof@postmedia.com

Three soccer games in eight days is tiring enough.

Throw in a cross-country flight and a ticked-off opponent, and the challenge of the moment proved even more difficult.

So Cavalry FC will take the 1-1 result from Saturday's contest against the HFX Wanderers FC and celebrate the positives from a tough trip east.

“The guys have had a busy week,” said Cavalry Gm/head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr., moments after the Canadian Premier League game in Halifax. “At home to Vancouver FC, then we played the Vancouver Whitecaps, then we travelled here. …

“We knew Halifax was going to be a tough place to come,” continued the gaffer. “They've had 10 days to prepare for us, and we had to travel and recover from a midweek (Canadian Championsh­ip) game.

“I thought we responded very well.”

While Cavalry (1W-3D -1L) might feel disappoint­ed not to take three points from the winless HFX (0-13), the host squad did come in with a chip on their collective shoulders after having been bounced from the Canadian Championsh­ip in a one-off showdown with League1 Quebec's CS Saint-laurent.

That losing result from early last week sent ripples through the domestic tournament and punched the Wanderers, who have struggled so far this season, right in the face, bringing them into Saturday afternoon's match in a foul mood.

And that set up what was a testy tilt, including feisty Cavalry midfielder Charlie Trafford at the centre of spirited attention.

But the fatigued visitors stayed taut enough for the tie through all that turmoil.

“I think the freshness in our lineup matched the intensity that Halifax brought,” Wheeldon said. “I thought we were the better side for the most part, but Halifax finished strong and we tried to make the changes to nullify them because in a one-goal game, you're always going to give them fresh hope if you don't put them away.

“But the positive was that we didn't lose to a team that had more time to prepare.”

That wasn't the only positive for Cavalry.

Willy Akio, who has stumbled, finally found his footing for his first goal of the year. He ran onto a terrific cross through the box from teammate Lucas Dias to knock the ball past HFX goalkeeper Yann Fillion, giving the Cavs the lead in the 58th minute.

It was Dias' second sweet feed in as many games, proving he's bringing cache to Cavalry on his loan from Sporting CP, of Portugal's Primeira Liga.

“I'm happy that I got another assist,” Dias said. “It takes time to jell with my new teammates, but I think I'm jelling everyday better with them. Everything's going to plan. I'm trying to plan their movements better.”

“Lucas Dias has been really good in what he's given to us,” said Wheeldon. “He's almost like a bit of a street player — there's a swagger and a confidence to him. He just wants to play football. He's always a threat in and around the (penalty) box. He's clever when he has to press.

“He did a lot, so it was very pleasing to see.”

And at the other end, Jack Barrett finally got the call in net for Cavalry, performing well in his first profession­al start. The onloan goalkeeper from English Premier League-side Everton was beaten on a nifty header by HFX'S Giorgio Probo in the 78th minute.

“Jack's deserving of it, because he's been great in training and been great in pre-season,” Wheeldon said. “He's a quality 'keeper, and we felt it was the right time to get a start in a tough environmen­t and give Marco (Carducci) a little bit of a reprieve. Marco's been in a lot of tough games lately, and we've got a lot of big games coming up.

“But, yeah, I thought Jack was smashing, for the most part.” So were others, says the coach. “Niko Myroniuk is a player who we felt we could get one-v-one, especially if they converted to a back three,” Wheeldon said. “It was good.

“And then we thought we'd bring in Sergio (Camargo) and Fraser (Aird) into the second half. I liked what we had there. (Eryk) Kobza and Jesse (Daley) just needed a little bit of rhythm again (after being injured) — they were key components of our season last season.

“And it's nice to see Willy Akio get on the end of one.”

Cavalry returns home to face York United FC (2-0-3) next Saturday at ATCO Field (5 p.m., Onesoccer, Onesoccer.ca) to continue a busy month of May.

“We've had, of course, quite a few games in the last few days,” said Dias. “But I think we have a very good team, which allows us to rotate for players to be fresh.

“I thought we had a good performanc­e on the road. Unlucky we couldn't get the three points.”

We knew Halifax was going to be a tough place to come. They've had 10 days to prepare for us, and we had to travel.

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Cavalry's starting XI included goalie Barrett, defenders Kobza, Klomp and Bradley Kamdem Fewo, defenders Daley, Trafford, Dias, Myroniuk and Shamit Shome, and forwards Akio and Malcolm Shaw … The subs were: Goalie Carducci, defenders Aird and Callum Montgomery, midfielder­s Camargo, Diego Gutiérrez and Max Piepgrass, and forward Lleyton Brooks. … The scratches were goalie Mitchell Barrett, defenders Tom Field (leg), Michael Harms and Caden Rogozinski, midfielder Maël Henry and forwards Ali Musse (ankle) and Toby Warschewsk­i.

 ?? JAMES BENNETT/CPL IMAGES ?? Feisty Cavalry FC midfielder Charlie Trafford was the centre of some spirited attention during Saturday's 1-1 draw with a cranky bunch of HFX Wanderers on Saturday in Halifax.
JAMES BENNETT/CPL IMAGES Feisty Cavalry FC midfielder Charlie Trafford was the centre of some spirited attention during Saturday's 1-1 draw with a cranky bunch of HFX Wanderers on Saturday in Halifax.

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