Pacific FC and Halifax Wanderers fought to a scrappy 1-1 draw at Starlight Stadium on Friday night, with the two sides from opposite coasts battling hard in a match where ultimately they could not be separated.
Playing on a short turnaround from Monday’s game back in Halifax, the Wanderers rolled out a very different side, as Patrice Gheisar made nine changes from his previous lineup, giving Doneil Henry a second straight start and the captain’s armband while João Morelli, Lorenzo Callegari, Dan Nimick and several others sat out. Pacific, meanwhile, went with a similar squad to the one that beat Valour last Saturday, again deploying a back three — but with Amer Didic back in the mix this time.
The early stages played out perhaps as expected, with the Tridents commanding possession in the first half. They created a few decent chances, including one that fell to the foot of Steffen Yeates, who had a good look at goal but put it over the bar.
As the first half drew to a close, though, the Wanderers won a set-piece just outside the penalty area to the goalkeeper’s left. Aidan Daniels feathered a perfect cross into the box, reaching the head of youngster Armaan Wilson at the back post and Wilson headed in his first professional goal to give Halifax the lead at halftime.
Pacific took some time to settle into the second half, but they again took control of the ball, and just 10 minutes into the half they found a way back in. Ayman Sellouf drove into the box and was tackled by Fumpa Mwandwe, whose foot made enough contact with the Pacific winger to prompt referee Alain Ruch to point to the spot.
Sellouf stepped up to take the penalty himself and buried it to the keeper’s left, scoring in a second straight game and levelling the score at 1-1.
About 10 minutes after that, Pacific coach James Merriman opted to turn to his bench first, bringing midfielder Sean Young and winger David Brazão into the game to replace Yeates and Adonijah Reid, respectively. Gheisar soon countered with Jordan Perruzza and Mohamed Omar coming off his bench, bringing off a pair of attackers in Tiago Coimbra and Théo Collomb.
With about 10 minutes to play, the Wanderers were struck a blow of misfortune, as Mo Omar threw his arms in the air to ask for an offside call, which meant his hand was in the way of a cross into the box. Originally, the referee pointed to the spot, but upon consultation with his assistants he determined the handball had happened outside the penalty area — giving Pacific a free kick, which created a very dangerous chance in the six-yard box but didn’t get the Tridents their go-ahead goal.
The final stages, including seven minutes of stoppage time, ultimately went by without incident, as both sides had an opportunity from a set-piece — plus the hosts had a handful of corners and some dangerous chances in the last two minutes — but neither side could find their way back to the net and the contest finished all square at 1-1.
As a result, Pacific ended the night alone in second place, while the Wanderers moved into fourth with a point, as both sides now turn their focus to midweek games approaching rapidly.