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Pacific FC, Cavalry FC primed for first-place battle in Calgary

Pacific FC owes a debut of gratitude to HFX Wanderers goalkeeper Kieran Baskett.

Pacific FC owes a debut of gratitude to HFX Wanderers goalkeeper Kieran Baskett. He stopped former Ireland Under-21 international and Plymouth Argyle, Cardiff City, Bolton Wanderers and Wolverhampton pro Joe Mason of Cavalry FC on a penalty kick in the 93rd minute last weekend in Calgary to ­preserve a scoreless draw.

The result left Cavalry FC in second place in the ­Canadian Premier League, one point behind PFC, with each team ­having four league games remaining.

Stalking both are two-time defending champion Forge FC of Hamilton, Ont., which is two points adrift of PFC and one point behind Cavalry FC but with two games in hand.

At stake for the top placer is home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The race to the wire resumes this evening in Calgary with Pacific FC meeting Cavalry at 6 p.m. PT in a critical fixture on ATCO Field at Spruce Meadows.

“We will look at the standings after 28 games,” said PFC head coach Pa-Modou Kah, in trying to tamp down the importance of the fixture.

“We’ll see then where we stand. Until then, it’s just another game.”

Yes, but not so mundane as that in actual fact.

“It will be a huge factor in the standings,” Kah allowed, when further prodded.

“We know Cavalry will be coming out firing on full power. We are ready for that. These are two sides that enjoy ­playing each other. They get out a nice crowd in a proper, intimate ­stadium.”

Pacific FC returns home to face seventh-place FC ­Edmonton next Tuesday and York United on Oct. 30 at Starlight ­Stadium before playing Toronto FC of Major League Soccer in the Canadian Championship ­semifinals Nov. 3 at BMO Field.

The draw in Calgary allowed HFX to cling to the fourth and final playoff slot, one point ahead of York United. Neither appear a threat to overtake the top three of PFC, Cavalry or Forge FC.

CORNER KICKS: PFC star midfielder Marco Bustos, out with injury since Aug. 16, returned in the Tridents’ 3-2 home victory last weekend against Valour FC of Winnipeg and looked fit and ready to go when needed tonight.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com