The HFX Wanderers of Halifax made the third-longest trip in the world, 5,832 kilometres, to play a game between two pro soccer clubs in a domestic Premiership league.
The trip home to the East Coast was made more bearable with a late goal that salvaged a 1-1 draw against a ragged and flat Pacific FC side Saturday night at Starlight Stadium. The 3-0 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer in the Canadian Championship semifinals on Wednesday night at a packed Starlight clearly took a lot more out of the Tridents than maybe they thought.
“For sure we were tired but it’s still frustrating to go up 1-0 and then drop points at home,” said PFC head coach James Merriman.
“We need to finish off games.”
In fairness, the trying goal had been coming as the plucky Maritimers pressed after falling behind in the first half before 2,741 opposition fans.
“We felt unlucky going into the half down 1-0. We knew they would sit back and try to hold the lead. We felt unlucky not to get more goals,” said six-foot-two HFX centre-back Daniel Nimick, a Canadian who grew up in the Leeds United Academy program.
HFX is near the bottom of the table on six points but hasn’t been a pushover with only one loss to go with six draws.
“It feels like some sort of curse,” said Nimick.
“We were unlucky not get more out of those drawn games. And this was one of those games.”
Adonijah Reid caught the corner just inside the post at 32 minutes to give PFC the lead. Aidan Daniels, who played for Canada U-23 in CONCACAF qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, leveled at 84 minutes with a goal that was building.
“It was back to back games so we were obviously tired,” said PFC striker Reid.
“But the guys gave it their best.”
PFC goalkeeper Kieran Baskett is from Halifax, and began his pro career with the Wanderers, so a clean sheet would have been sweet but it was not to be.
“This was a great statement from this young group,” said HFX head coach Patrice Gheisar.
“That [PFC] is a great team with a great facility and great fans. Our guys were brilliant and brave tonight.”
The Tridents are second in the CPL at 3-1-3 in wins-losses-draws for 12 points.
PFC leads the all-time series against HFX 6-4-5.
The Tridents will cross the strait Friday for their first-ever visit to Langley to take on freshman franchise Vancouver FC in the second all-time game of the CPL’s B.C. Derby. The first game, at Starlight Stadium, was won 1-0 by the Tridents.