By Ben Ralph
Photo Credits: Trevor MacMillan / Halifax Wanderers FC
It’s hard to put into words exactly how to feel after ATO once again conceded a last-minute goal to lose another crucial CPL game at the back end of the season. To call the crumble against Halifax Wanderers a ‘heartbreaker’ would be scrutinized on the assumption that ATO supporters' hearts had healed since two heartbreakers the week previous. A second-half capitulation culminated in a downright morose atmosphere at the postgame presser, attended by Carlos Gonzalez and Sam Salter, and yet ran only a little over ten minutes. Here are all the details:
The Quotes: Carlos Gonzalez
On where the game was lost: “I think we lose the games in the first ten minutes of the second half. It's true that we did that with the first half, but in the second half, we disconnected and we made big mistakes of situations that we corrected in the halftime that we were speaking about because the only threats that we were having of Halifax were of those type of situations inside passes and diagonal runs.”
On subbing off Bassett for Del Campo: “I think that we were looking for energy, and Ollie – he didn't have energy in that moment. And we were looking for more targets that we could reach in a more vertical way and find spots of ending situations in a faster way. At the end of the day, we were looking for putting more offensive people in the lineup, but we knew that maybe the game will be started to be a little bit unbalanced in loose moments, but there were the risks that we should take on that moment.”
On looking ahead: “I think that we need fresh heads at the moment. We need to go back home, think about what we did today. Think about the five days that we were here in Halifax. And I think that Halifax started to win the game (with the decision to postpone the Saturday kickoff). Once we were here already, we knew the decision in the planes. Once we came into Halifax, so many things happened and wasn't an easy game to play.”
On the final home game of the season: “I think that we need the support of everyone. I think it's very important that we are united in this moment. It's a tough moment for the team, but it's true that we have still three games, nine points, and it's in our hands. We have to improve the details that is making that we are losing so many points in the last month. And, yeah, we hope that with our fans at home they can help and they can give us this push that we need at the moment.”
The Quotes: Sam Salter
On the second half capitulation: “First half we did pretty well, created some good chances. Could have been two, three nil up at the half and then ended up just scoring one goal, and then second half, we just didn't manage the tempo well. They came out stronger than us, scored two quick goals, and then, yeah, we managed to equalize at the end. But it's something that's been happening the past three games…something happens at the end that we need to manage better games. And yeah. It’s frustrating.”
On how to break a slump: “It's easier to say, but continue like we did in the first half. I think we played really good. If we manage to keep playing like that and create some chances and score goals, well, hopefully, we can win games and, like I said, manage better the games at the end.”
As Carlos and Sam surely realized when they were summoned to take part in the postgame presser, very little joy can be recovered from belaboring a match as devastating as this loss has proven to be. It is true that Atléti has slipped down below Halifax in the table and sits only a point clear of sixth place York FC and an ignominious dumping out of playoff positions. But truly, the most important point came from CarGo as he looked ahead to next weekend's match against Valour in what appears ever the more likely to be the final home match of 2023. ATO desperately needs a return to winning ways, but it will take a colossal, united effort from all involved to turn the tide. So, if you are still on the fence, grab a ticket for next Sunday and do what you can for this club. Every little bit will count in getting this one over the line for a fresh stab at playoffs.
In the immortal words of Steven Gerrard: “We don’t let this slip, we go again.”
See you next weekend.
Ben Ralph is a die-hard football fan and a journalism student at Carleton. He has been supporting Everton through the ups and downs (but mostly the downs) and could not believe his luck when he stumbled across Atlético Ottawa in 2021. Now part of the Atleti faithful, his dream has always been to write football stories, and he is excited to join other fans as writers for CCSG. His football journalist idols are Adam Hurrey, James Richardson, and Charlie Eccleshare from The Football Cliches Podcast.