Halifax Wanderers Cruise To Comfortable Victory Over FC Edmonton
Bottom-placed side FC Edmonton saw its Island Games troubles continue as the Halifax Wanderers cruised to a dominant three-one victory that could have seen even more goals scored at the UPEI Turf Field tonight.
The result sees the east coast side rise up to a top four position in the league table, while FC Edmonton now has it all to do if they’re going to make an inspired run up the league rankings.
Former Halifax Wanderers defender Duran Lee got the start against his old side, with Antony Caceres and Hanson Boakai earning the other nods on the left flank after impressing against Atletico Ottawa. With Tomi Ameobi and Keven Aleman starting up top, Paulus fielded a team he was hoping could continue its late game momentum from a few days ago.
Meanwhile, the Halifax Wanderers saw five changes to its starting eleven, with Christian Oxner making his first return after recovering from an undisclosed knock. The side boasted an attacking front three of Alessandro Riggi, Akeem Garcia, and Alex Marshall, with Brazilian midfielder Joao Morelli in a central position behind Garcia.
The Wanderers would get the first big chance of the match when Alex De Carolis found himself with miles of space on the left side, but his powerful effort flew above the net without forcing Connor James into a save.
Hart’s team would continue to press hard in the game’s opening minutes, with Chrisnovic N’sa sending over two crosses in quick succession, with a clever pass from Jamaican international Alex Marshall seeing a close-range Riggi effort blocked by Ramon Soria minutes later.
FC Edmonton would get its first penalty of the tournament after Chrisnovic N’sa collided with Antony Caceres in the box, with referee Filip Dujic quick to point to the spot. Captain Tomi Ameobi stepped up for the opportunity and squared off against Oxner, who has proven his penalty saving abilities before.
As fate would have it Oxner would be up to the occasion yet again, making a great save to deny FC Edmonton its third goal of the tournament and keep things all square at the UPEI Turf Field:
Moments later, FC Edmonton had another golden opportunity as Keven Aleman broke through to the middle, but he opted to shoot rather than pass to a wide-open Antony Caceres, with his shot going well over the bar.
As Caceres communicated that Aleman should have passed, the former Sacramento Republic midfielder appeared to shush the youngster, which could prove to be a talking point about team chemistry and the side’s recurrent problems with shot selection.
The Wanderers would make FC Edmonton rue its missed chances when a Trinidadian link-up between Andre Rampersad and Akeem Garcia saw the forward put through on a breakaway chance courtesy of a fantastic through ball. Garcia closed down James and, cool as you like, slotted the ball between the keeper’s legs for his third goal of the tournament:
Fantastic through balls would become the norm for the east coast side with Riggi then sending Morelli into the box just before half-time, with the Brazilian dinking home a left-footed shot beyond James to double his side’s lead.
The start of the second half would see the Eddies’ defensive woes continue, with De Carolis forcing James to collect a low cross and Morelli nearly getting through for what would have been his second goal of the night.
The Halifax Wanderers came inches away from securing a third goal in the fifty-eighth minute when a headed effort from Andre Rampersad’s struck the post during a corner set piece.
The Eddies continued to struggle in terms of closing down De Carolis, who slotted in yet another ball to the back post which nearly saw Garcia extend the lead. The Wanderers engine was buzzing well into the second half, with FC Edmonton struggling to keep the deficit at two.
De Carolis also came up big in the defensive third as the game wore on, blocking a close chance from Keven Aleman.
The Wanderers were finally able to make the second half dominance pay after a defensive error from Duran Lee saw Rampersad gain possession in the box. He racked up his second assist of the night to allow Joao Morelli a one-time finish to make it three-nil.
With that, Morelli also becomes just the fourth athlete to score a brace at the Island Games tournament so far, and the very first Wanderers player to bag two goals in a single match.
It would also be the first time fans would see two braces in the same day at the bubble tournament, with Joseph Di Chiara having recorded a derby day brace in an earlier man of the match performance against Forge FC.
A strong challenge saw Beland-Goyette concede possession to Velado-Tsegaye in the game’s final minutes, with the youngster firing home a truly wonderful shot from outside of the box to break Oxner’s clean sheet. The 24-year-old goalkeeper will feel hard-done by, given that it was just the Eddies’ second shot on target.
While the Eddies were able to rally from behind to force a draw against Atletico Ottawa a few days ago, there was no such comeback on the cards tonight: the Wanderers comfortably secured all three points to move into fourth place on goal difference, defeating FC Edmonton for the first time ever.
With the Alberta-based side sitting at the bottom of the table with the worst goal difference, Paulus will have it all do to if he’s to see his climb up the table. The Eddies will be back in action this Saturday for a noontime game against Valour FC.
Stephen Hart’s team will take on York9 FC – the other team which won today – in a weekend bout which will have large repercussions for the post-season aspirations of both top four sides.