Final Score: Atlético Ottawa 3-2 HFX Wanderers Goalscorers: Aleman 21', Tissot 51', Perez 90+1'; Lamothe 58', Salter 90+1' (PK) Game of the 2022 season: 78 CPL match: 328
Match in a minute or lessAtlético Ottawa picked up their tenth win of the season on Wednesday night, beating HFX Wanderers in dramatic fashion at TD Place. After the visitors had an early goal called off for a supposed offside in the buildup, it would be Ottawa who opened the scoring instead. Keven Aleman fired a ball into the box -- seemingly a mis-hit cross, despite his claim after the match that he meant it -- and it curved past an off-guard Christian Oxner. Maxim Tissot finished off an impressive passing play six minutes after halftime, making it 2-0 for the hosts, but Pierre Lamothe found a goal of his own a few minutes after that, bringing Halifax back within one. Otaawa tried to park the bus and see out a 2-1 victory, but after Lifumpa Mwandwe was fouled by Macdonald Niba in the penalty area as stoppage time was beginning, a penalty was awarded, which Sam Salter converted for his eighth goal of the season. It seemed as though the Wanderers were going to leave with a hard-earned point, but just 41 seconds after Salter's shot hit the back of the net, the ball was already back at the other end of the pitch, in the back of HFX's goal. Ottawa immediately charged up the pitch, with Carl Haworth's cross finding Ivan Perez, who was able to put it past Christian Oxner to score goal number three for the home side, and earn three points.
Chaotic stoppage time period turns the match on its headThe final few minutes of Wednesday's match were unpredictable, and saw the result change several times. Leading 2-1 with about 20 minutes left to play, Atlético Ottawa head coach Carlos Gonzalez made the decision to have his players drop deeper and defend with everything they had left in the tank. Ballou Tabla and Ollie Bassett both left the pitch with small knocks in the final stages of the contest, and were both replaced by defenders -- Ivan Perez and Macdonald Niba, respectively -- signalling his intent to just grind out the three points. The visitors kept knocking on the door, however, and after Lifumpa Mwandwe was fouled by Niba in the box -- incredibly, the fourth penalty Mwandwe has won in just four matches with Halifax -- it gave the Wanderers a late lifeline. Sam Salter stepped up and fired the ball past Sean Melvin to tie it up late, and the energy seemed to be sucked out of TD Place. That was surely it, two points dropped for Ottawa, and one gained for HFX Wanderers. But Ottawa had other plans. Forty-one seconds after HFX scored, the ball was in the back of their net again. Carl Haworth received a pass on the ride side and curled a ball into the box for a charging Ivan Perez to redirect past Oxner, just as Brian Wright's pass to Maxim Tissot played out on their second goal. The goal was initially called offside, but after the referees consulted with each other it ended up standing, and being the winning goal. It was a hectic few minutes in the capital, and ones that ended with the home side coming away with three points. Hart said after the match that with wins absolutely crucial at this point in the season, their message to captain Andre Rampersad and the team was to go for a third, but that opportunity would never come. Perhaps it was a lack of concentration after a dramatic equalizer that let his side down defensively. "We told the skipper that if we get it to 2-2, let's go for the win," Hart said. "We need to win. I'm not sure if any changes could have been made to keep it at 2-2, things happened so fast right after it. "It's one of those situations in football where there's a lot of emotion after tying it at 2-2, and maybe a bit of concentration is lapsed. There's no words really for losing after coming back like that." Hart had a lot of praise for his side after the match, saying that despite a difficult season thus far as a whole, and another frustrating match on Wednesday, the mentality of the group is still strong. "One thing I will say about my players is that they have never caved," Hart said. "Things have not gone our way, and they've stuck together, they've had each other's back. The last set of performances have been very good."
Wanderers start well, but early momentum halted by unconventional Ottawa goalAt times this season, a criticism of HFX Wanderers has been their tendency to start matches slowly, and there have been moments in the campaign where their lack of cohesion early in a match has cost them. On Wednesday night, however, it was the opposite. The Wanderers came flying out of the gates, dominating the first ten to fifteen minutes of this one with a ruthless high press and a strong push to find an early goal. The ball hardly left Ottawa's half of the pitch in the early minutes of the match. The two wingbacks Zachary Fernandez and Obeng Tabi looked fantastic at times throughout the match, but in the early stages in particular they combined very well with the midfielders and attackers in their attacking unit. It was actually the Haligonians who put the ball into the back of the net first, just a couple of minutes after the match kicked off, with Pierre Lamothe finishing off a nice passing play with a shot that hit the bottom of the crossbar and went in -- but it was called back for a supposed offside when the ball was passed to Mour Samb before his played it to Lamothe. Whether or not Samb was actually offside, the call from the assistant referee stood, and the goal didn't count. Despite the frustration of the early drama, HFX remained on the front foot for the next little while, with Peter Schaale also scaring Sean Melvin with a shot that he fizzed past the keeper's post from long range. From there Ottawa started to build some momentum, getting a few shots away, before finally taking the lead 21 minutes in. All of a sudden, what looked to be a cross from Keven Aleman curled the other way and ended up in the back of the net, past a scrambling Christian Oxner. Aleman claimed after the match that he meant to hit the ball with the outside of his foot to put it into a dangerous position, but wouldn't say explicitly that he meant it to be a shot rather than a cross. Whether or not he meant it, it was his long-awaited first goal of the season -- Maxim Tissot and Ivan Perez's goals were also their firsts of the year for Ottawa -- and a deserved one at that after some strong performances of late. "I don't know if Aleman meant that shot, but he pulled it off," said Wanderers boss Stephen Hart. "Sometimes when things are not going your way, things like that seem to happen to you."
Sean Melvin makes first CPL start for OttawaWednesday night's match was a rare, but well-deserved, day off for Atlético Ottawa's starting goalkeeper Nathan Ingham. In fact, it was the first time this season that Ingham wasn't between the sticks for his side in all competitions -- Ingham had played every CPL match, and also started against his former club York United in their Canadian Championship preliminary round defeat in May. Melvin has been the backup for Carlos Gonzalez's team the entire time, patiently waiting for his opportunity, and he finally got it on Wednesday night with the start against the Wanderers. He made three saves for Ottawa, and was a vocal leader at the back in a victorious victory for the 28-year-old. The backup role isn't one that Melvin is unfamiliar with -- during his time in the Vancouver Whitecaps setup and with the first team, opportunities were hard to come by. Prior to signing with Ottawa ahead of the 2022 Canadian Premier League season, however, Melvin was a regular in goal for the Colorado Springs Switchbacks of the USL Championship. With a Canadian senior national team cap to his name as well, Ottawa knew he could be a difference maker for them, no matter the role he was asked to play. Gonzalez said after the match that with three games in just seven days, it was important Ingham got a chance to catch his breath a little bit, but also that this chance has been a long time coming for Melvin. "We tried to give him the opportunity before, but in those moments he had an injury or something happened," Gonzalez said. "He had a little bit of bad luck in other moments in which we thought he was going to be in the starting eleven. "This is a week of three games, we have to manage the loads of every player, and Sean has been working really, really hard since the beginning of the season. He's making the level of Nate grow, and he's growing also. The staff thought this was a good opportunity to give this opportunity to Sean, because he deserved it."
CanPL.ca Player of the MatchMaxim Tissot, Atlético Ottawa Ottawa's left back scored the winning goal in this match, and assisted Keven Aleman's opening goal as well. Tissot also put in a strong shift defensively against HFX Wanderers' dangerous right back Zachary Fernandez.
What’s next?Both sides are in action again this weekend. HFX Wanderers host the reigning champions Pacific FC in Halifax on Saturday, August 20 (2:30 pm AT/ 1:30 pm ET), before Atlético Ottawa travel in the opposite direction to take on Cavalry FC at ATCO Field on Sunday, August 21 (3:30 pm MT/ 5:30 pm ET). Watch all matches live on OneSoccer. In addition to its website and app, OneSoccer is now available on TELUS channel 980 and on Fubo TV. Call your local cable provider to ask for OneSoccer today.