Atlético Ottawa Steal Points from Halifax Wanderers in 101st Minute Draw

Atlético Ottawa Steal Points from Halifax Wanderers in 101st Minute Draw

On June 2nd at TD Place, a day that will live on in infamy, Atlético Ottawa fought until the dying minutes of the match to steal points from the Halifax Wanderers in a 2-2 draw. The hosts were coming off a disappointing end to their Canadian Championship run, having lost 2-1 to Pacific FC at Starlight Stadium just three days earlier. Marking their third game in nine days, the players’ fatigue from the congested schedule was evident on Sunday – the absence of Maxim Tissot and Amer Didić in the backline due to injuries suffered earlier in the week, along with their inexperienced replacements, were also key factors in what was nearly a defeat and the visitor’s first win of the campaign. Although not their strongest performance, ATO’s resilience allowed them to turn the match on its head by scoring two goals in the last 17 minutes of play, a true testament to the unpredictability of football.

The action-packed game saw Ottawa outshoot Halifax eight to seven in the first half, despite the Wanderers' early lead. The visitors controlled the pace and seized the first scoring opportunity in the 11th minute. Zachary Fernandez passed centrally to Ryan Telfer from the right flank after evading three Atléti players. Telfer shot from the 10-yard line narrowly missing the target after a skillful nutmeg on Tyr Duhaney-Walker.

Exploiting Ottawa’s weak back-line, Halifax capitalized on a defensive error in the 13th minute, forcing Rayane Yesli into action. Luke Singh intercepted Daniel Nimick’s pass and sent a low-quality ball to Matteo de Brienne. The wingback had to sprint to maintain possession and quickly nudged the ball towards his own goal to avoid Nimick’s challenge. Seizing the chance, Riley Ferrazzo snuck behind de Brienne, snatching the loose ball and advancing towards the near post for a strike. Fortunately, Yesli was prepared and managed to control the ball after a deflection.

Immediately, Ottawa counterattacked delivering the ball into Halifax’s penalty area. Samuel Salter’s header aimed at goal landed into the arms of Yann Fillion, the Wanderers’ goalkeeper. Fillion made two more easy catches during the match: a header by Manny Aparicio in the 38th minute and a volley from de Brienne in the 42nd.

Photo © CPL Photos

Fans erupted in outrage in the 17th minute when Ballou Tabla surged up the field and, attempting to maneuver past Wesley Timoteo with a series of step-overs, went down after locking knees in the penalty area. Despite the contact, the referee allowed play to continue, much to Tabla and the supporters’ dismay.

Halifax taking control of the game earned the lead in the 21st minute and capitalized on two more opportunities shortly after. Timoteo sprinted down the left flank, feeding the ball to Telfer at the edge of the penalty area. Telfer cleverly back-heeled the ball through Duhaney-Walker’s legs, forcing Yesli off his line. Instead of shooting, Timoteo passed centrally to Ferrazzo, who got in front of de Brienne and slotted the ball into the net, giving Halifax a 1-0 lead.

With newfound confidence, the East Coasters used their momentum to shoot twice more on goal in the next four minutes. Lorenzo Callegari charged down the center, feeding Telfer on Singh’s right. Telfer cut inside Singh, entering the box and firing a shot from about 10-yards out and Yesli made an easy save, dropping low to collect the ball. In the 25th minute, tension rose as Yesli hesitated while out of his box, considering whether to intercept Maximo Ferrin, who received a long pass and bypassed two Ottawa defenders. With the net open, Ferrin attempted a long-range shot that sailed wide, preventing a wider lead. Telfer replicated a similar kick in the 33rd minute, this time forcing Yesli to dive left, but the shot was off target. Yesli was challenged once more in the 40th minute to make a fingertip save on a strike by Callegari.

Looking to equalize before halftime, Tabla utilized Ollie Bassett’s set piece, initially cleared away, to unleash a shot from outside the penalty area in the 28th minute. A beautifully struck ball, it needed a touch more curl to slip beneath the frame. Tabla and Bassett, a dynamic duo on the field, combined once more in the 44th minute for a scoring opportunity. Tabla received the ball from Bassett on his left and fired a low shot toward the frame that required a split save from Fillion to deny the chance.  

Fans were on the edge of their seats in the 46th minute as a brilliant play by Atlético seemingly found the back of the net, only for the referee to call offside. De Brienne delivered the ball into Halifax’s box, where Salter headed it to Aparicio, who nodded it to Tabla. Despite pressure from two defenders, Tabla managed to turn towards goal and feed Aparicio, who quickly returned the ball to Tabla who had stumbled offside. Positioned 6-yards out, Tabla struck the near post, redirecting the ball into the far corner of the net, though it was not to be.

Photo © CPL Photos

The Halifax Wanderers started the second half offensively. In the 50th minute, Andre Rampersad delivered a long-ball to the edge of Ottawa’s box, finding Fernandez, who navigated deeper into Ottawa’s territory. He then passed back to Telfer whose attempted shot was blocked by Duhaney-Walker before the winger fouled de Brienne. Three minutes later, the visitors earned consecutive corners, both of which were punched away by Yesli.  

The Save of the Match came in the 56th minute, when Fillion, forced out of his goal box, dove left to deny a strike from Tabla. Meanwhile, Rubén Del Campo fought to extend his goal streak but struggled to find his footing. In the 58th minute, he won a duel and carried the ball into the box, only to have his pass intercepted amidst a sea of Halifax defenders. Finally, in the 73rd minute, his bicycle kick veered upwards and far off target.

In the 75th minute, fans were left in disbelief as Ferrin surged down the center and serviced the ball to Aidan Daniels on his right. Daniels slipped behind the Ottawa defenders and delivered a cross across the frame to a waiting Tiago Coimbra, who easily tapped the ball into goal. Yesli’s attempt to thwart Daniels left the right side of his goal exposed, with Liberman Torres unable to get back and cover his man. This goal gave Halifax the 2-0 lead, prompting Coimbra to celebrate shirtless in front of the supporters’ section resulting in a yellow card – which would prove costly to Halifax in the 86th minute.  

Bassett’s numerous opportunities during the match left no doubt that he would eventually find a goal. His shot in the 27th minute was defended out for a corner, while in the 81st minute, he collected de Brienne’s deep throw-in in Halifax’s box. Maneuvering past Cale Loughrey, Bassett’s kick was deflected by Fillion. Yet, his moment came in the 84th minute when Aparicio intercepted the ball, setting up Tabla’s advance to the 18-yard line. With Bassett in position, Tabla delivered a precise pass to the penalty arc, allowing Basset to calmly slot the ball into the lower far corner past a leaping Fillion, securing a simple yet perfect goal to the excitement of the crowd.

Photo © Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography

The goal lit a fire in the home team, propelling them to dominate the rest of the match, despite Halifax’s attempts to run down the clock, resulting in ten minutes of added time. However, in a twist worthy of Shakespearean Tragedy, Halifax’s time-wasting tactics led to their own downfall. Their hubris earned them three yellow cards, with Timoteo, Fillion, and Coimbra all reprimanded. Coimbra’s second yellow led to his ejection, leaving Halifax with ten men for the remaining 15 minutes.

The pivotal moment came in the 101st minute when Twardek received the ball from a throw-in and passed it to Dani Morer. The substitute lofted it into the penalty area, where Alberto Zapater met it. Demonstrating what’s become his signature move, the Spaniard headed the ball into the bottom corner of the net, securing the 2-2 equalizer and preserving ATO’s undefeated streak.

Overall, reflecting on the game, Ottawa generated opportunities and played fairly well despite how it may have felt from the stands; they just couldn’t capitalize on the chances needed to secure three points and struggled with miscommunication at the back – a common issue for this team. One player who undoubtedly carried his weight and made a significant impact on the pitch was Ollie Bassett, making him my standout player for the match. He posed a constant threat with several shots on target, tackles, and duels – truly reminiscent of the player we’ve admired in past seasons. That said, I can’t spotlight Bassett without showing Ballou Tabla some love, as this duo was in sync and generated four shots together not to mention Tabla’s assist on the 84th minute goal.  

Photo © CPL Photos

Atlético Ottawa, top of the table with eighteen points, play seventh place Valour FC next, at Princess Auto Stadium, on June 9th at 1:30 PM. Come join the Capital City Supporters’ watch party at the Glebe Central Pub, where Ottawa will be aiming to snatch three points from the Winnipeg side.


C.G. Girard (she/her/elle) discovered Atlético Ottawa during their 2023 season and has been a loyal fan ever since. A long-time admirer of the sport, she first began playing football at the age of seven and most looks forward to international competitions where she supports both Canada and the Netherlands.

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