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Halifax Wanderers Doneil Henry

The Wanderers Recap: Colliding Coastlines

By on September 10, 2023 0 901 Views

The HFX Wanderers had a tough and short week. On Monday, they lost to York United after an excellent first half and then quickly flew across the country to the sunny coastline of Victoria to face Pacific FC. With such a short turnaround, there wasn’t much time for reflection on a game that slipped away from the team. So, with bated breath, many Wanderers fans were curious how the team would bounce back.

When the starting lineups were released, the anxiety amongst HFX supporters increased as Dan Nimick and Lorenzo Callegari were left off the team sheet (so far, it seems as if it was to give them much-deserved rest). While these two omissions from the squad were the big news, the other headline was the level of rotation, as Patrice Gheisar made eight changes to the starting lineup.

So, with the scene set, let’s get into what turned into quite a chippy game.

Game Recap:

The Wanderers started the game with revenge in their hearts as they tried to mend their egos after the disappointing loss to York United. Right out of the gate, they pressed hard and put Pacific under quite a bit of pressure through solid hold-up play by Tiago Coimbra, who in turn played quite a few delicate passes to create space for the likes of Tomas Giraldo and Aidan Daniels. Much like most games with relatively even-strength squads, possession and momentum ebbed and flowed, with the Wanderers taking the lead on the last touch of the first half through an Armaan Wilson headed goal, which was created by Aidan Daniels’ wand of a right foot.

As a neutral fan, it would have been hard to say that either team deserved the lead at the half, but more so that it could have gone either way, and it wouldn’t be a surprise. Coming out of the break, clearly Pacific wanted to press as quickly as possible, to give them enough time to tie the game, as well as push on for a winner. For ten minutes, the Wanderers did a great job of absorbing pressure, but as Ayman Sellouf has done so many times this season, he got the better of his defender, and in this case, drew a penalty off of Fumpa Mwandwe.

For Wanderers fans, it felt like deja vu. Could they fumble two leads in a row? Thankfully, the answer was no, but Pacific and HFX both had plenty of missed chances at the end, with Pacific having much of the possession and more high-quality opportunities to steal the three points. With Doneil Henry and Cale Loughrey standing tall, the boys were able to lock down the back, taking a hard-earned, singular point back to Halifax.

Another important feature of this match for the HFX Wanderers was the total number of U-21 Canadian minutes played. Coming into the match, they needed another 854 minutes. But, with Tomas Giraldo and Armaan Wilson playing 90 minutes each and the additional 74 from Tiago Coimbra, the Wanderers are now only 600 additional minutes away from the required mark for playoff eligibility. With five games remaining, they only need to average 120 U-21 minutes per game, which is entirely doable.

Standings:

With York United losing to Valour FC in the first game of the Friday night doubleheader, the Wanderers knew that a single point would move them above York while having an extra game to play. While a single point doesn’t help much in terms of the title push, the playoff race is so tight that a single point could decide between second place and missing the playoffs.

Milestones:

Armaan Wilson scored his first professional goal, and what an important goal it was. Being so young, we can certainly expect to see more goals from him in his career. Congrats, Armaan!

Aidan Daniels is now tied for ninth all-time in HFX Wanderers appearances with 47. With his assist on the Armaan Wilson goal, he also moved into sole possession of fourth place for Wanderers goal contributions (9 total).

Yann Fillion is now the only player on the 2023 roster who has played every minute of the regular season. With only five matches remaining, it is possible that we could see an Ironman season for Big Yann.

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