Canada’s Atlantic Coast proved the setting for the second elimination match of the playoffs pitting Halifax Wanderers vs Pacific FC with the visitors hot off their early round win at home to York United. Halifax undertaking their first playoff game, hoping to use the sold-out Wanderers Ground to their advantage to set up a game vs the loser of the Cavalry FC vs Forge game later on Saturday.
Pacific FC’s last outing to the other side of the continent resulted in a 2-1 win over the homeside, a rare victory in a rather drab end to the season for the team. Pacific FC in their eye-catching alternate kit adorned by indigenous art from the Vancouver Island local Salish community, a wishful homage to their geographical roots might spur inspiration today.
A slow start to the match with the first chance on target coming from the home side in minute 20 as a low driven shot from the left side of the box from number 10 Aidan Daniels is collected comfortably by Pacific’s goalkeeper Emil Gazdov. Halifax continues with the pressure and resorts to a pop shot outside the box much like York United were forced into time and time again in Pacific’s last outing.
Pacific FCs most lively character early on came in the form of the most experienced player in the squad Kekuta Manneh who has garnered over 150 MLS appearances, most notably with fellow BC team the Vancouver Whitecaps. His first effort from just outside the box was collected comfortably by Halifax goalkeeper Yann Fillion but represented Pacific’s first attempt at goal and signs of life from the team in black and white.
Two minutes later the ball found its way out to Manneh once again on that left hand side with space to run. Manneh cuts inside of center-back Loughery before delivering a soft but bouncing ball across the box which proved too difficult for the retreeting Zach Fernandez who fumbled it into his own goal. Advantage West Coast much to the displeasure of the 6000 in attendance.
Into the second half and much of Halifax’s positivity flowed through on-field captain Mo Omar playing in the number 10 role, one of the three changes to the team since their last regular season match vs Valour. His persistence to find the channels something not picked up on all too well by his teammates in their ‘harbor blue’ jerseys.
Further attacking into the East Stand of the Wanderers Ground with the historic Halifax Citadel in the background, Wesley Timoteo fizzes a free kick to the back post only to be headed away for a Halifax corner. The corner, played short, is once again aimed at the heads of the tall Halifax men in the middle, meeting Brazilian Tiago Coimbra who rattles it against the crossbar and spares Pacific for now.
Down the other end, Manneh proving again to be the main outlet for Pacific in their quest for a second more decisive goal in this game. His efforts forward result in a scenario where an over ambitious Timoteo finds himself caught dribbling out of his own box before having the ball snatched by Dutchman Djenairo Daniels who, after some silky footwork on the byline by youngster Zak Bahous can’t find the net from 5 yards out, foiled by the outstretched leg of former PSG prospect Lorenzo Callegari.
Halifax’s best opportunity of the match comes with 5 minutes of the 90 left as substitute Riley Ferrazzo’s cross cum-shot bounces off the top of the crossbar into the path of Fernandez who’s acrobatic effort is cleared off the line. Fernandez was so close to atoning for his decisive own goal which would prove to be the only difference in this game of fine margins as Pacific win by a goal to nil. James Merriman’s ultimately the merrymen once more.