York United are back above the Canadian Premier League playoff line after their third straight victory in Halifax, this time 2-1 over the Wanderers.
It was the second straight week that the Nine Stripes have recovered from an early goal conceded to pick up an absolutely massive three points. An early goal for Jordan Perruzza was cancelled out just before halftime by an Austin Ricci header. York United captain Roger Thompson then scored his first Canadian Premier League goal in the 63rd minute to provide an unlikely winner.
The Wanderers now drop out of the playoff spots for the time being, tied on 32 points with York United and Atlético Ottawa, but behind on the first tiebreaker which is total wins. York, however, have played one more match than either Ottawa or Halifax.
Halifax came incredibly close to opening the scoring in the 12th minute, Zachary Fernandez found himself in space down the right flank, he crossed the ball to Massimo Ferrin who headed it across goal to Perruzza. However, the Halifax striker’s redirection was right into the hands of young Adisa De Rosario, who calmly collected to end an excellent chance to take an early lead.
The Wanderers found a few more opportunities down the right flank as good ball movement in the midfield created more space for Fernandez out wide. However, they weren’t able to turn those moments into significant opportunities and York did a better job of getting numbers back in that area as the half wore on.
Clément Bayiha beat Dan Nimick down the flank before seeing his shot stopped by Yann Fillion. Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé then had an outstanding chance on the rebound but his shot was blocked, as was Mo Babouli’s follow-up — both the result of excellent defensive awareness from Wes Timoteo.
Halifax showed their defensive awareness again on a corner kick shortly thereafter, keeping a perfect line to play York offside from their elaborate short routine. Off the restart, a great ball forward from Doneil Henry, making his first start for the Wanderers, was headed into the path of Perruzza. The striker split the defenders with a great run and slipped a shot through the legs of De Rosario to give Halifax the lead in the 31st minute.
Ten minutes later, Callum Watson played an outstanding ball over the top into the path of João Morelli. The Brazilian, however, took his time to shoot allowing De Rosario to get off his line and make a brilliant save to keep his team within one goal.
It appeared as though that lead would hold into halftime, however, a searching ball into the box by Tass Mourdoukoutas eluded both Henry and Nimick and was latched onto by Ricci. The in-form York striker sent a perfect header back across goal and past Fillion to tie the score at 1-1 just before the halftime whistle.
The Nine Stripes nearly took the lead early in the second half. Bayiha again beat Timoteo out wide, drifting into the box and clipping the ball over top of Henry. However, a wide-open Babouli could not control the ball enough to fool Fillion. Babouli tested Fillion again in the 58th minute, this time with a low-driven shot from out wide that the Halifax keeper parried away. It was a strong start to the half for the Nine Stripes.
York then stunned the Halifax crowd in the 63rd minute. A foul from Henry just outside the top of the box allowed Babouli the opportunity to swing a beautiful cross into the box. York captain Thompson connected brilliantly with his head and played the ball off the post and into the back of the net past Fillion.
Halifax quickly went back on the attack creating a few good looks, but York United were locked in defensively. Promising efforts from distance for Watson and Fernandez were both blocked and cleared away. York did an outstanding job of killing the clock away from home, holding onto the ball well and keeping it simple in moments of pressure. Henry almost had a Hollywood ending in stoppage time but his header was directed just wide.
York United now head home for four straight matches at York Lions Stadium, a crucial stretch for them that will make or break their season. Halifax, meanwhile, will need to regroup ahead of a cross-country trip to Starlight Stadium on Friday.
31′ — Jordan Perruzza (Halifax Wanderers)
45′ + 2 — Austin Ricci (York United)
63′ — Roger Thompson (York United)
55′ — Yellow: Noah Abatneh (York United)
62′ — Yellow: Doneil Henry (Halifax Wanderers)
75′ — Yellow: Brem Soumaoro (York United)
90+4′ — Yellow: Adisa De Rosario (York United)
90+7′ — Yellow: Daniel Nimick (Halifax Wanderers)