Final Score: Pacific FC 0-3 HFX Wanderers Goalscorers: Samb 24', Daniels 36', Salter 71' (penalty) Game of the 2022 season: 44 CPL match: 295
Match in a minute or lessHFX Wanderers picked up the biggest win in their history on Saturday afternoon, making the trip out to the west coast and dominating the reigning champions Pacific FC. Mour Samb opened the scoring for Halifax, collecting a clearance attempt from Thomas Meilleur-Giguère, taking a touch before shooting at Callum Irving, a shot which the Pacific goalkeeper wasn't able to get a strong hand to. Aidan Daniels doubled the lead about 10 minutes later, turning Amer Didic inside out before his shot across the goal also beat Irving. With 20 minutes still to be played, and the visitors firmly in the driver's seat, Sam Salter left no doubt about who the best team was, firing home a penalty to close out a 3-0 victory.
Halifax get the reaction they needed after last weekend's lossAfter another sizable home defeat to Forge FC last weekend, Halifax players, coaches and fans alike wanted to see a reaction from their side, and react they did. Last week it was errors and players out of position that sunk them, but this weekend it was the opposite -- the Wanderers punished Pacific for doing the same, and were clinical when opportunities were presented to them. On the opening goal, Mour Samb took advantage of a misplaced clearance from Thomas Meilleur-Giguère, taking a touch before getting off a shot that Callum Irving in the Pacific goal got a touch on but had it slip through his fingers. The second goal was the result of a fantastic move by Aidan Daniels to beat Amer Didic before a cross-goal shot with his left foot went under Irving, while the third was a penalty awarded to, and scored by, Sam Salter, moments after substitute Sean Young entered the pitch. Combine their good finishing with another sturdy performance from Peter Schaale and Eriks Santos -- as well as the return of crucial midfield duo Andre Rampersad and Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé, and it was nearly the perfect game from the Haligonians. In fact, it was their best-ever result, the first time they've ever beaten an opponent by three goals. "We seem to be making a habit of that, having a poor game and then coming back strong, and I hope it's not a habit," said Wanderers head coach Stephen Hart after the match. "I hope this game shows that we have quality when we're all on the same wavelength. You constantly have to challenge the players, because sometimes they don't know how good they can be. From a team perspective, I thought the collective was extremely strong today -- backline, midfield, frontrunners. I'm very proud of them." "All week we talked about getting a reaction out of everyone," added Daniels. "Putting energy every single day into training and into this weekend. We just need to keep building on this and take care of Ottawa on Thursday at home."
Pacific attackers can't get going in frustrating outingDespite their dry spell of late, Pacific FC players are still at or near the top in most offensive statistical categories. Alejandro Diaz leads the Golden Boot race with six goals thus far, with Josh Heard not far behind with three. Marco Bustos also leads the league in shots (21) and assists (5). They're so consistently dangerous that any game in which they fail to make things happen almost comes as a surprise. That trio all started again together on Saturday, and couldn't get the proverbial ball rolling. Halifax's stingy defence led to frustration, which affected how they played. There were points in the match where, if Pacific could get a shot away at all, their only plan of attack seemed to be shooting the ball from distance -- a low-percentage option that failed to provide a goal. Of their eleven shots, five of them came from outside the area, and only three of those eleven total shots hit the target. Again without their star midfielder Manny Aparicio, Diaz kept dropping deep to try and get on the ball and make things happen deeper than he would've liked. He only touched the ball 19 times in this match, zero times in the opposing penalty area, and about the same number of times that his replacement Djenairo Daniels had (14). Diaz and Heard were taken out of the match before the hour mark, visibly disappointed by the decision, while Bustos made it to the 82nd minute before he too was given the rest of the afternoon off. Their removal allowed Daniels and Gianni Dos Santos to get some more reps in, and to try and push those above them on the depth chart for minutes. When Bustos came out, right back Kunle Dada-Luke was also pushed higher up the pitch into a more attacking role. "They're both hungry for opportunities," Pacific head coach James Merriman said of Daniels and Dos Santos after the match. "It's obviously competitive. Marco Bustos, Diaz, Josh Heard are all very good players, experienced players, and a big part of our success last year. They started the season very, very well and they come in and are good professionals, training every day. "Dos Santos and Daniels, from where they were to where they are now, they've come a long way and they're hungry. I thought both of them came in and did very well today." As for the rest of the team, Merriman repeated that the team are performing well in training, and the coaches are getting what they want from their group, but for some reason it isn't translating to their matches. He also again criticized the team's energy to begin the match -- they started slowly and never caught up to the Wanderers' intensity. Pacific are winless in seven matches in all competitions, scoreless in three, and with the added pressure of CONCACAF League on the horizon, need to find what's missing and fix it sooner rather than later.
Samb and Daniels open their CPL accountsHFX Wanderers have had some trouble scoring goals this year, being shut out five times and limited to just one goal three more times through eleven matches before Saturday's contest. They've also been on the end of a pair of lopsided defeats at home to Forge, and are playing without the reigning Player of the Year Joao Morelli. On Sunday that all changed, as an offensive explosion was the team's best-ever result -- their first ever victory by a three-goal margin. All three of their attackers -- Mour Samb, Aidan Daniels and Sam Salter -- found the back of the net in this match, the first two beating Callum Irving in the first half and Salter converting a penalty with 20 minutes to go to put the game out of reach. For Samb and Daniels it was their first CPL goals, although Daniels previously scored in the Canadian Championship -- a strike from distance against Guelph United in the Canadian Championship. For Salter it was his fifth of 2022, tying him for second place in the league with Forge's Tristan Borges, and one back of Pacific's Alejandro Diaz. Daniels impressed in his first Canadian Premier League match for HFX Wanderers in April, one of the best players on the pitch in a season-opening win over York United on the road. Since then he's dealt with an injury, missing a handful of matches, but has started to show signs that he's beginning to reach a higher level again. On Saturday it was his quick decision-making and coolness under pressure that allowed him to score his first CPL goal, and help his side run the show. Using his strength to hold off one of the best defenders in the league in Amer Didic, Daniels turned one way, faked a shot and turned back the other way before firing his shot under Callum Irving. It was an extremely well-taken goal and a flash of just how good he can be. His head coach Stephen Hart said after the match, as he has said about a few players this season, that the duo don't know how much potential they have. If they continue to take advantage of their opportunities, good things will come. "Unfortunately both of them have had their injury problems, so you know how that is, it's in the back of your mind sometimes but they've got to be brave" said Hart. "They've got to realize that as a footballer, injuries are part of life. When you have your moments you do the best with them, and they did that today." "Obviously it's always nice to contribute to the team in a win," Daniels said afterwards. "[Hopefully I'll] add more to the bank throughout the season, but more importantly we got the three points. I'm just doing anything I can to help the team move forward."
CanPL.ca Player of the MatchAidan Daniels, HFX Wanderers FC Daniels scored his first CPL goal on Sunday, and was a key part of an electric HFX Wanderers attacking unit.
What’s next?HFX Wanderers return home to Wanderers Grounds to host Atlético Ottawa on Thursday, June 30 (7: 30 pm AT/6:30 pm ET). Later than night (6:30 pm PT/7:30 pm MT), Pacific host Cavalry FC at Starlight Stadium as well.
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