Wanderers draw home opener in front of sellout crowd | News | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST
HFX Wanderers FC right back Zachary Fernandez evades a challenge from Vancouver FC defender Rocco Romeo on Saturday, April 29, 2023.

Wanderers draw home opener in front of sellout crowd

The new-look Wanderers remain undefeated through three games, but a win still proves elusive for Gheisar’s club.

Three games into HFX Wanderers FC’s 2023 Canadian Premier League campaign, one theme has followed the professional soccer club: The team knows how to start a game, but hasn’t quite figured out how to finish one. On Saturday, April 29, in front of a sold-out crowd at Wanderers Grounds, the Halifax-based Wanderers drew visitors Vancouver FC 1-1 in a tightly-contested match that saw more than its share of nail-biting moments.

Things looked promising for the Wanderers early in the club’s first home match of 2023. First-year striker Théo Collomb brought the crowd of 6,413 to its feet in the 12th minute, slotting home a strike inside the left post and past Vancouver FC goalkeeper Callum Irving for a 1-0 Wanderers lead. The 22-year-old Collomb almost couldn’t believe how much time he had in front of goal, after being sent in past Vancouver’s defense with a well-placed lob from Wanderers teammate Riley Ferrazzo.

“We talked about it in practice,” Collomb told reporters after the match, with a smile. “We called it the ‘Jorginho ball’… Coach [Patrice Gheisar] told me it wouldn’t work.”

From there, Halifax nearly doubled its lead on three occasions: One, a one-touch volley from French midfield maestro Lorenzo Callegari to Wanderers captain Andre Rampersad in the 20th minute; the next, a cross from fullback Zachary Fernandez that nearly found left winger Massimo Ferrin with an open chance at Vancouver’s back post a minute later; and finally, a free kick from winger Massimo Ferrin that nearly found defender Mo Omar at the back post in the 36th minute.

Instead, it was Vancouver forward Shaan Hundal who found the back of the net next, beating Wanderers goalkeeper Yann Fillion just before halftime to level the score at 1-1. To those who have watched through two regular season appearances and a Canadian Championship exit, it looked like old ghosts resurfacing: In each of the Wanderers’ prior appearances, the club has gone up 1-0 early, only to concede an equalizer. Twice, that levelling goal has come in the waning minutes of the first half.

It’s just the consistency of seeing the first 30 [minutes extended],” Wanderers head coach Patrice Gheisar told reporters post-match. “I mean, if we could see that [performance shown in the first] 30 for 90 [minutes], we’d see a different scoreline.

“It is the third game of the season; we do have 15 new players. We did start March 1—not to make excuses… We’ve gotta find that complete 90 [minutes]. We’ll get to it.”

Things were chippy throughout the second half; in one moment, Omar took exception to a shove from Hundal; later, Fernandez drew Vancouver’s ire after falling to the ground during a battle for the ball with Irving.

Halifax nearly found a moment of magic in stoppage time, as substitute Wesley Timoteo managed to find teammate Callum Watson on the left wing for a low cross into the box, but the Wanderers couldn’t find a finishing touch to slot it home. Later still, Timoteo found the ball at his feet with an eye on goal, but couldn’t get a clean shot through Vancouver FC’s defense.

With Saturday afternoon’s draw, the Wanderers have three points through three CPL appearances—good for fourth in the league, at least until Atlético Ottawa and York United play Saturday evening.

Next, the club heads to Winnipeg for a meeting with Valour FC on May 6.

Man of the Match: Lorenzo Callegari, MF, HFX Wanderers FC

Martin Bauman

Martin Bauman, The Coast's News & Business Reporter, is an award-winning journalist and interviewer, whose work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Calgary Herald, Capital Daily, and Waterloo Region Record, among other places. In 2020, he was named one of five “emergent” nonfiction writers by the RBC Taylor Prize...
Comments (0)
Add a Comment