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Fans taking in a Wanderers games in Halifax, NS. Photo: HFX Wanderers.

Halifax Wanderers FC ready for first home playoff game

By Evan Taylor Oct 13, 2023 | 3:24 PM

In a historic first for the Halifax Wanderers FC, a sold-out crowd is expected to descend upon the Maritimes this weekend as the club hosts Pacific FC in their inaugural home playoff match. This quarter-final encounter promises an intense showdown between the third-seeded Wanderers and their west coast rivals, Pacific FC, with both teams vying for a chance to advance to the Canadian Premier League (CPL) Final.

The Wanderers’ path to this playoff fixture has been marked by determination and success. Under the leadership of head coach Patrice Gheisar, the team secured their first-ever playoff berth over a full season. Halifax’s impressive 2023 season saw them achieve club records with 11 wins and 42 points, culminating in a third-place finish in the league.

Wanderers Head Coach Patrice Ghiesar told reporters he wants his players to approach this game the same way they would for a regular season matchup. Photo: Evan Taylor

In contrast, Pacific FC’s journey to the postseason was characterized by ups and downs, but they regained their winning form when it mattered most. The Tridents triumphed in the recent fourth-versus-fifth play-in match, securing their spot in the quarter-finals with a late 1-0 victory over York United.

Pacific FC’s route to the playoff clash has been nothing short of an adventure, as they make the arduous cross-country trip to Nova Scotia, following a brief stop in Toronto. Their rapid turnaround leaves them with only 62 hours between the final whistle in Langford on Wednesday and kick-off in Halifax on Saturday, marking one of the longest domestic road trips in the world of football.

The Tridents, led by coach James Merriman, enter this contest with a chip on their shoulder, determined to prove their worth in the championship race. Despite a strong regular season, they find themselves at a disadvantage due to a late-season slump, which included three consecutive losses.

The stage is set for a highly anticipated showdown between these two coastal rivals, who have a history of delivering thrilling encounters. The season series between the two teams in 2023 was evenly split, with each side claiming victory at their respective home grounds and two 1-1 draws at Starlight Stadium. Their most recent meeting in mid-September resulted in a 1-1 draw, with both teams displaying their competitive spirit.

While they have faced each other in the past, this Saturday’s match will mark the first-ever knockout fixture between the Halifax Wanderers FC and Pacific FC. Notably, the teams crossed paths in the Island Games tournament in 2020, with Pacific claiming a convincing 5-0 win, even though Halifax had already secured their spot in the CPL Final.

With both teams eager to progress further in the playoffs, the stage is set for a memorable encounter at the Wanderers Grounds in Halifax this weekend. Fans can expect an intense battle as the Wanderers seek to make history in their inaugural home playoff match.