The Halifax Wanderers are up into third in the CPL table, and have officially put pressure on Pacific and Forge heading into the final day of the season, after a 1-0 victory over Valour at IG Field on Friday night.
Pacific will now need a win against CPL regular season winners Cavalry in Calgary on Saturday in order to leap Halifax in the table. Forge and Halifax are currently tied on points at 42, but Forge have a better goal differential meaning the Wanderers need them to lose by multiple goals against Atlético Ottawa tomorrow in order to move up into second place.
The lone goal of the match was scored by Massimo Ferrin, his eighth of the season. Yann Fillion, meanwhile, kept his seventh clean sheet of the season — tied for second in the league.
After Valour managed a shot on target, albeit not a particularly threatening one from Walter Ponce, just 27 seconds into the match, it settled into a rather cagey affair. There was only one other shot attempt through the first half-hour of the match, a similarly tame effort from Massimo Ferrin, as neither side was really able to grab a hold of proceedings.
Halifax were forced to make an early sub in the 30th minute, as youngster Tomas Giraldo was forced to be removed from the match with injury. Playing it safe with his side needing to pick up 195 U-21 Canadian minutes to officially qualify for the playoffs, Patrice Gheisar handed 18-year-old Camilo Vasconcelos his professional debut as Giraldo’s replacement.
Valour had an outstanding chance to go ahead in the 33rd minute as the always dangerous Matteo de Brienne cut down the left side and played a perfect cutback into the path of fellow U-21 Canadian Juan Pablo Sanchez. However, Sanchez’s shot with Fillion out of his net hit the crossbar. The Winnipeg side fired another warning shot mere moments later, as this time they did find the back of the net but the whistle had already gone as Fillion was judged to have had his hand on the ball when it was taken away from him.
Valour were perhaps unfortunate to not be leading at the half, but despite the hosts having 56 per cent possession and the majority of chances, the two teams went into halftime deadlocked at 0-0.
Knowing that a draw did nothing for their quest to improve their position in the table, Halifax started the second half on the front foot. They earned their reward in the 54th minute, when defender Dan Nimick threaded through a lovely ball to the top of the box for Ferrin, who sent a rocket into the top of the net from distance to give Halifax a 1-0 lead.
Ferrin came incredibly close to a brace mere moments later, as he got on the end of a brilliant ball across the box from Jake Ruby out wide. His sliding effort, however, slammed off the post to Rayane Yesli’s right and Valour were able to clear the danger.
Ponce put another effort on Fillion’s net in the 77th minute, but the Halifax keeper deflected the shot, before eventually collecting the rebound. In the dying moments of the match, Fillion came up big again with some great positioning to deny de Brienne.
With the loss, Valour will finish the season in the 8th and final spot in the CPL, with this being their eighth loss by a single goal this year. For Halifax, this was just their second victory away from home this season. Ahead of a playoff campaign where they will have to play away from home if they want to make a run, it was a critical momentum-builder.
54′ – Massimo Ferrin (Halifax Wanderers)
59′ — Yellow: Walter Ponce (Valour FC)
83′ — Yellow: Daniel Nimick (Halifax Wanderers)
90+2′ — Yellow: Yann Fillion (Halifax Wanderers)
90+3′ — Yellow: Tiago Coimbra (Halifax Wanderers)