April 19, 2024
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Halifax Wanderers

The Wanderers Recap: A Painful Day At The Races

By on September 13, 2023 0 906 Views

I will keep this recap short and succinct because it is a tough pill to swallow, and the best way is just to rip off the band-aid. Even in a loss, Wanderers fans should be extremely proud of what the team has done so far this season and what they will continue to do until the season ends. You can say that the team gave away too many points from winning positions, you can say that the team made a few too many mistakes, but what you can’t say is that this team gave up, EVER, full-stop. To that point, this season might not end the way Wanderers fans hoped, but they have a manager and an organization that is doing everything they can to repay the support of every single Wanderers fan.

We can talk about the refereeing in this game for hours and hours, and I’m sure some people will. But this column is not one of those situations, so we will purely claim any missed decisions as “dubious” or “controversial”.

Game Recap:

In Patrice Gheisar’s short tenure, it is hard to say that one game has been more important than another. After all, every game is worth the same number of points. Still, you could make a case that this match against the league leaders, Cavalry FC, was the most crucial for the club. This match was the Wanderers’ game in hand, a chance to drive a nail into York United’s coffin while also keeping Cavalry within touching distance. Yet, the first half felt sluggish for the Scotia boys. Maybe it was the fact that most of the team flew from Halifax to Victoria and back again in just a few short days, but that is an excuse that I’ll leave for someone to use in a post-match press conference.

The team looked to settle in and feel out Cavalry, whereas the Calgary side wanted to attack from minute one, which is crucial to setting the tone. While Calgary attacked, the Wanderers slowly woke up, but not before it was too late, and a cross/shot snuck by Yann Fillion, who was misfooted after a Callum Montgomery couldn’t get on the end of a Mael Henry cross.

One nothing to Cavalry, and the Wanderers needed a response. In the fog, it was hard to see who was going to emerge from the shadows and save the day (metaphorically). Riley Ferrazzo seemed the most likely, as he had one of those days where he couldn’t be confined to a single part of the pitch. His marauding runs taking him from left-back to centre-forward, all while spinning and weaving like a butterfly being batted around by the wind. Yet, there was nothing to show for his effort, as the half-time whistle blew; down a goal and down a substitution after Joao Morelli was forced off with an injury.

Half-time ended, and the fog had intensified. The floodlights worked as hard as they could to force their light onto the pitch. The Wanderers were doing the same, as they tried to create a moment of light that would get past Marco Carducci. Heartbreakingly, the light was found at the other end of the pitch as Daan Klomp found space in the box and headed home an easy-looking corner routine. It wasn’t a sucker punch, as the Wanderers saw it coming, but it was certainly a heavy blow.

Down two goals and travel in their legs: this is where Patrice Gheisar sees if his team truly holds the ‘never say die’ attitude. It would have been easy for the Wanderers to give in, pass it around the back, and hope a moment came their way, but instead, they pushed forward, knowing that they needed to put their hearts on their sleeves and leave every ounce of themselves on that field. It is a defining moment. Not because of how great the success was but because of how much adversity they faced, yet continued to fight for the crest on their chest. Cue Massimo Ferrin, a player who has been mercurial on the pitch, finding space and forcing Cavalry to foul him, drawing a penalty and starting to pull momentum back in the Wanderers’ favour. As we have become accustomed to, Dan Nimick stepped up, cool as you’d like, and buried the ball as deep into a corner as you possibly could on a football pitch.

Five goals, leading the team in scoring, all from centre-back, and I’ve said it all year: Daniel Nimick is a star boy. He will excel at a level much above the Canadian Premier League because no moment feels too big for him. Somehow, moments after scoring, he got a second goal until it wasn’t a goal. The referee gave a controversial foul on what seemed to be typical actions in the penalty box for a corner kick. Heartbreak once again, yet the team continued pushing, working hard to find a way to level the score in a way where the referee couldn’t cruelly deny the equalizer. But it wasn’t to be. Full-time whistle, two goals to one for Cavalry.

With that win, Cavalry became the first club to clinch a playoff berth, with four left to play for.

Cavalry FC Ali Musse
Photo Credit: Trevor MacMillan

Standings:

While the result didn’t go the Wanderers’ way, playing this mid-week match made the table abundantly clearer, as it takes away most of the ‘game-in-hand’ situations and places teams at 24 games played, each with four vital games remaining. With Atletico Ottawa and Pacific still to play their mid-week fixture, the Wanderers know that they will sit either in fourth or fifth place, depending on the outcome of that match. While theoretically, the Wanderers can still win the regular season title, more realistically the team is battling to be the second or third seed in the playoffs to ensure the maximum number of home games.

The Wanderers’ remaining games are as follows: Atletico Ottawa (at home), Vancouver FC (away), Forge (at home), and finally, Valour FC in Winnipeg.

Header Image Photo Credit: Trevor MacMillan

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