Final Score: FC Edmonton 2-3 Pacific FC Goalscorers: Bitar 79', Camara 83'; Young 39', Heard 43', Daniels 59' Game of the 2022 season: 53 CPL match: 303​

Match in a minute or less

They didn't make it easy for themselves, but Pacific FC finally got back into the win column on Saturday afternoon, beating FC Edmonton 3-2 at Clarke Stadium and ending an eight game winless run in all competitions. The Tridents scored twice in the first half thanks to a volley from Sean Young and a lob over Eddies goalkeeper Andreas Vaikla from Josh Heard. They added a third goal just before the hour mark as Djenairo Daniels tapped in a chance created by Alejandro Diaz, and it looked as though Pacific were on their way to an easy victory. Edmonton made a late attempt at a comeback, with Gabriel Bitar and Mamadi Camara scoring in the 80th and 83rd minutes, respectively, but they were unable to find a third. With the win, Pacific FC jump back over Forge FC into third place in the standings, although The Hammers have three games in hand.

Three Observations

Pacific finally snap lengthy winless run​

The Tridents began the season in fantastic form, picking up 10 points from a possible 12 in their first four matches. It seemed like despite the losses to the roster and coaching staff that they had to deal with in the offseason, the reigning North Star Shield winners were going to start to run away with the league table, but they instead trended in the opposite direction. A few days shy of two months without a win, Saturday's match was an important one for Pacific. After eight straight matches without a win in all competitions, head coach James Merriman expected and demanded a big performance, and he got it. "It was really important to get the result today and three points, it's very important for us to get a win because we know the run that we've been on," Merriman said after the match. Merriman has said repeatedly over the past several weeks that his side have been training well and that the mentality of the group is where it needs to be, but that they were starting games flat and digging themselves into a hole. Against Cavalry last weekend a switch seemed to flip and they came firing out of the gates, taking the lead just six minutes in and doubling their advantage late in the first half, but an impressive comeback from Cavalry gave them a 3-2 lead before Alejandro Diaz rescued a point for the Tridents. In this match it was Sean Young, Josh Heard and Djenairo Daniels that helped them jump out to a 3-0 lead, a sizable advantage before the hour mark, but they again switched off a bit and allowed their opponents to get themselves back into the game. Gabriel Bitar and Mamadi Camara both scored in the final moments of the match, and while it was too little, too late in the end as the Eddies ran out of time, it's still something that concerns Pacific. "I'm really happy with a lot of the performance, I just don't think that we need to be in the situation that we're in to finish the game," offered Merriman after the match, challenging his team to continue to improve. Saturday's win wasn't a dominant one, Pacific are next in action on Friday, away to York United. That will be a chance for them to continue to build back up to the level that they started the season with, against a York team that is really struggling to gain any kind of momentum.

Eddies make it interesting late, Pacific nearly let big lead slip away​

With time running out on what seemed to be a great 3-0 victory for the visiting side, Pacific conceded twice in the closing stages of the match. They spent a crucial stretch of the game on the back foot, defending for their lives, when the contest appeared to be, and should have been, put to bed. It was an unsavoury end to what was a solid performance for Pacific, and turned a positive thing -- ending a poor two month stretch without a win -- into another lesson. The important thing is that they held on for the three points, but if they don't get their defence back up to the standard required, they'll continue to concede preventable goals. The prime example of that is Bitar's goal to rejuvenate the Eddies in the 79th minute. A poor giveaway at the back gifted an opportunity to one of the league's in-form players, and kickstarted a comeback that Edmonton nearly pulled off. "It's frustrating to give away these goals when we're up 3-0, we're in control," said Merriman. "We give away one and we felt that pressure a little bit and give away a second one so quickly. It's frustrating but it's been difficult for us to get a win and get a result, so we need to take that and keep building on it." "Maybe [it was] a lack of concentration, maybe letting our foot off the gas a bit," added midfielder Sean Young after the match. "We've got to finish teams off at three or four nil, especially when we're in that position. Concentration hasn't quite been good enough."

Alan Koch names unchanged starting lineup, continues to show trust in key players​

As the season has progressed and a relatively young and inexperienced FC Edmonton squad continues to grow into the season, head coach Alan Koch has seemingly found what he believes is his close to his best starting lineup. Although they were missing attacker Tobias Warschewski on Saturday, Koch again started a group that has played a lot of games together now -- partly because of necessity in a thin squad, but partly because he knows what he's going to get from certain people. In goal was the impressive Andreas Vaikla, who has been a standout this season on loan from Toronto FC II. Ahead of him Koch sent out a back five consisting of Luke Singh, Bicou Bissainthe and Nyal Higgins at centre-back, with Marcus Simmons and T-Boy Fayia at left and right back, respectively. In front of that defensive unit, Shamit Shome and Gabriel Bitar patrolled central midfield, with Masta Kacher on the left flank, Wesley Timoteo on the right and Mamadi Camara up top at striker. "We preach this to the guys in our team -- come to training and earn playing time," Koch said after the match. "The players that played last week were guys that came in and worked incredibly hard and they grabbed that opportunity. They played fantastically against York, and they weren't the only players that trained well this week -- they all trained well and the other guys were chomping at the bit too. "We wanted to reward the players that played and got the victory against York. It might be a little bit different next game, some players responded positively today and other guys had challenges." One player who stood out on Saturday, and has really developed with his opportunity to play regularly this season, is left back Marcus Simmons. Simmons picked up his first assist as a professional player in last week's 3-0 win over York United -- a fantastic ball that met Camara at the back post -- and did something similar in this match. With Camara again making a clever run to the back post, almost unnoticed by the Pacific defenders, Simmons curled a cross along the ground that Camara redirected into the back of the net, but it would be disallowed for an alleged offside. Simmons is one of the players who began the season as a trialist for FC Edmonton, and taken advantage of the "FC Opportunity" as some have said. He's developing well as a pro, and if keeps playing the way he has recently, might develop into a very solid CPL defender. He wasn't perfect on Saturday, however, but mistakes will help a talented young player grow. "I love Marcus, he's fantastic. He's a pleasure to work with, he comes to training, he puts his head down," said Koch. "He was playing university soccer last year and nobody thought he'd be playing professional football right now. From the very beginning when we started in a small bungalow here in Edmonton in our preseason, he came in and worked incredibly hard. "He knows this, he made a mistake today on one of the goals, but that's part of his own personal progression. He's had some fantastic moments, his service is top class, but like every player he's got a lot to learn. The challenges he had today will hopefully keep pushing him in the right direction." Player of the Match

Josh Heard, Pacific FC Pacific FC attacker Josh Heard scored one goal and played a big part in setting up another on Saturday, and was a key contributor to his side's victory.

What’s next?

Pacific FC are on the road again next time out, traveling to York Lions Stadium for a match with York United on Friday, July 15 (7:30 pm ET) FC Edmonton are back in action against Forge FC at Tim Hortons Field on Tuesday, July 19th (6:45 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.

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