Late Reid Strike Sets Up Coastal Clash In CPL Playoffs
The third goal was the charm for Pacific FC as an added time winner for Adonijah Reid rocketed the team to the next playoff round.
The prior two goals – both for Pacific – had been disallowed by referee Ben Hoskins, though York United actually had the lion’s share of chances in a match they came mighty close to winning. Instead, a disallowed equalizer for the Nine Stripes will sting even more as Pacific set itself up to make the long coast-to-coast trek to face Halifax Wanderers on Saturday.
The Tridents entered the match a little frustrated to be in a the fourth-versus-fifth playoff opener after spending most of the season in second, with Merriman urging on the club to show its colours and rise to the occasion. York United, who locked in a postseason berth by the skin of their teeth, came in a dark horse with better away form than home, with Nash enacting an attack-minded game plan.
The warning klaxons loomed for the hosts just a few minutes when Osaze De Rosario found himself on the end of a nice through ball, pinging the ball off the ground and above a scrambling Gazdov before Mukumbilwa cleared the effort at the mouth of the Trident’s goal.
The sixteenth minute saw Pacific celebrations muted early after a set piece was nodded to Thomas Meilleure-Giguere, who fired a tight-angled effort beyond Giantsopoulos and into the York United net. As a purple mass of players began to celebrate, the linesman indicated what was ultimately a correct offside decision – and with officiating a hot-button topic of late, we’ll give our kudos to the officiating crew for that.
As the first half wore on, York United looked the more comfortable side despite being the visitors – exactly what you might think for the league’s top away side. They garnered the lion’s share of chances, surviving a few set piece scares from Pacific and forcing Gazdov into action a few times.
The opening first half saw Brem Soumaoro – who was called up to Liberia but remained with his club for this match – fire an audacious out-of-the-box effort that rattled the crossbar, reminiscent of his goal of the season contender against Forge from the summer. This time the ball stayed out, however, and York continued to edge possession as Pacific struggled to loose balls up towards Easton Ongaro.
The first caution of the game saw Hoskins flash some yellow to Sean Young, who made a ‘professional foul’ to slow down an encroaching Mo Babouli in the 40th, with the Syrian international getting a nasty gash before firing the resulting freekick just north of the top corner. That’d be the last big chance of the first half, which ended scoreless as Pacific survived York’s early probing.
The second half saw no changes from their team to start, with York once again finding space to loose some early efforts at Pacific’s 20-year-old keeper. Meanwhile, Pacific would finally get their first shot on target in the 51st when Manny Aparicio – who had been a bundle of energy – burst forward to fire an arching shot that forced Niko to push the effort over the bar.
Pacific would have yet another goal called back off a corner in the 60th: TMG once again found himself on the end of the set-up, launching a thundering header that Giantsopoulos palmed into the post before bouncing out. The celebrations were – once again – cut short as the referee determined the ball didn’t cross the line when Niko made the save, though he had positioned himself a little behind the line. After some discussion with his linesman, Hoskins waved away the purple protests and the game remained nil-nil as Pacific had two goals from TMG called back.
With just over half an hour left to go, a heavy challenge from Max Ferrari saw the visitors get their first caution, with the pause in play seeing former York United midfielder Cedric Toussaint coming on for the hosts,
Tridents Captain Josh Heard will have wanted the next big chance back as he broke through the Nine Stripes line of defence but found himself off-balance as he got free, firing his shot well high of where it needed to be. He isn’t the only one to whiff a chance, with Tass Mourdoukoutas whiffing a shot just feet from Gazdov in a real centre-back type of shooting effort.
Both sides would then make changes, with James Merriman bringing on Kekuta Manneh to close what was a tough night for Ayman Sellouf, while Martin Nash would bring on a niggling-an-injury Jonathan Grant to step in for Clement Bayiha.
Things looked set to extra time before substitute Adonijah Reid finally broke the deadlock in the 92nd minute, popping home a nice forward ball that ignited the Pacific faithful who had trekked out to Starlight Stadium on a cool Wednesday evening:
York United had to go for broke in an effort to save their season, with Niko Giantsopoulos and the kitchen sink being thrown up top to cap of the final chance of the match. Amazingly, Paris Gee converted an absolutely wonderful bicycle kick to seemingly tie the game, only for Ben Hoskins and the officiating crew to correctly reverse a third no-goal decision. It was an absolutely correct call, as Gee was offside.
It’s a heartbreaking end for York United, who will have felt the match was theirs to win. It wasn’t a pretty performance from Pacific, but the Tridents are marching on and, crucially, avoided extra time as they head out to Halifax to face a much more well-rested Halifax Wanderers side on Saturday.
Header Image Photo Credit: Canadian Premier League