Pacific FC have made it two wins on the bounce after a five-game winless run, ending Halifax’s strong home form on Monday afternoon in Nova Scotia. Travelling the length of the country, Pacific regained top spot in the Canadian Premier League with a 2-1 win, which ended a five-match winning run for Halifax at home.
A goal from Thomas Meilleur-Giguère at the end of the first half got James Merriman’s side in on top at the break, before Josh Heard finished clinically from a pinpoint cross by Manny Aparicio in the second half. Daniel Nimick pulled one back in the 79th minute and Pacific had to hang on and defend strongly to ensure they headed home with all three points.
Not one, not two, but three times, a penalty was not awarded when perhaps it could have been.
Firstly, with Halifax dominating possession, Massimo Ferrin attacked the box and got in behind Pacific right back Kunle Dada-Luke. Legs appeared to intertwine and Ferrin hit the deck. However, referee Yusri Rudolf made a surprising and highly debatable decision, brandishing a yellow card to Ferrin for diving, much to the anger of Ferrin and the Wanderers fans in The Kitchen.
Later in the match, with Halifax looking to mount a comeback, Pacific broke in transition and Josh Heard sprinted into the box. He was brought down by Yann Fillion who came diving out, reaching for the ball. Ultimately, he was deemed to have arrived first at the ball, as the keeper diverted it out of play for a corner. This was likely the toughest call of the three to make sense of.
Finally, in the dying moments of the game, teenage goalkeeper Emil Gazdov rushed out of goal to deal with a ball into the box and looked to punch the ball clear, but made some contact on his way out. While no foul was called, new loan signing Jordan Perruzza and the rest of the Halifax side made appeals for a spot kick. Again, the shouts were denied, and a corner was awarded. It was frustrating for both sides, and this match prompted another call for VAR to be introduced into the league.
Pacific Slowing Halifax Down
A side in flowing form, especially at home, was slowed down in the final third by a diligent and hardworking Pacific side in this match.
Halifax had 63% of the possession but only managed three shots on target all game. While their passing accuracy was 88%, once the ball got forward, there were moments where there was a lack of cohesion. Pacific’s central defenders remained solid, with Cedric Toussaint covering endless ground in front of the defenders. Out of possession, Pacific’s wingers, Heard and Reid, worked tirelessly, dropping deep and defending well.
For Halifax, Nimick’s now trademark long sweeping cross-field balls to Massimo Ferrin were being dealt with well by Dada-Luke, as well as George Mukumbilwa, who had a very solid game at left-back. Lorenzo Callegari had also been a key part of Halifax’s progress, however, Pacific’s midfield got back in numbers and made it hard for him to conduct his usual progression. Three changes were made after an hour by Patrice Gheisar, but Pacific held on well, and while their players looked to tire after a while, no changes were made in response.
There was an expectation that Halifax could harness their momentum and get back into the game after scoring in the 79th, but Pacific held on. In the dying seconds, a dangerous free kick was cleared out to Theo Collomb, who miscued his own cross out of play for a goal kick and the final whistle blew, spelling disappointment for the Wanderers.
On to the Next
With two wins under their belts, Pacific head back to Starlight Stadium next week where they will face Atlético Ottawa.
Their last meeting, back on June 30, resulted in a 2-2 draw with plenty of frustrations and tempers boiling over from both sides. A missed penalty from Josh Heard cost his team, though they struggled to get control of the game throughout, as Ottawa did their best to disrupt and slow down proceedings. That match was the start of their five-game run without a win, something they will be eager not to repeat. With the table so tight, Pacific will be hoping to put some breathing room between themselves and the side who knocked them out of last season’s playoffs in the upcoming match.
This past weekend, Atlético suffered some uncommon defensive mishaps, drawing 3-3 with York United. It was an entertaining match for the neutral, but one that likely left both managers displeased. Seeing this, James Merriman will be hoping his forwards can cause Ottawa further nightmares this weekend, looking to make it three wins in a row for Pacific.