York United scored early and often on Saturday afternoon in Nova Scotia, as a pair of first-half goals set the table for an emphatic 3-0 win over Halifax Wanderers.
The host Wanderers set up on Saturday, for the first time in 2023, without French midfielder Lorenzo Callegari, who missed out due to a yellow card accumulation suspension. So, captain Andre Rampersad was joined in the middle of the park by Mo Omar and Aidan Daniels. Meanwhile, York were without star attacker Mo Babouli for a fourth straight game (all competitions), so coach Martin Nash turned to a quartet of Oussama Alou, Osaze De Rosario, Austin Ricci and Clément Bayiha to provide an attacking spark.
York, as Nash had hoped for in his prematch comments, came out of the gates flying, with two shots in the first five minutes and a few good looks from around the Halifax box — including a short free kick that Alou put on target but straight at the goalkeeper. Soon after, they were rewarded: the ball came to Matthew Baldisimo in a pocket of space as the referee played advantage, and Baldisimo strolled through midfield and shot from outside the box to beat Yann Fillion and make it 1-0.
Twenty minutes later, it was York again who found the net as they broke upfield in transition. Ricci drove toward the box and squared it to Alou as he crossed over, and the Dutchman feathered a curler over traffic and scored near the right post to double the visitors’ advantage.
With his team down by two at halftime, Halifax coach Patrice Gheisar made a change at the interval, bringing in Kosi Nwafornso up front and Tomas Giraldo in midfield.
The changes did not, however, prove fruitful. York once again went forward quickly in transition just moments into the half as Ricci drove into the box again and squared it toward the goal, where Brem Soumaoro jumped on a loose ball to make it 3-0.
Halifax did press for at least one goal in the final half hour of the match, and a few times they got close with chances in the York box, but ultimately the visitors held onto the clean sheet and the Wanderers were left empty-handed.
11′ — Matthew Baldisimo (York United)
32′ — Oussama Alou (York United)
46′ — Brem Soumaoro (York United)
23′ — Yellow: Matthew Baldisimo (York United)
67′ — Yellow: Massimo Ferrin (Halifax Wanderers)
90+2′ — Yellow: Riley Ferrazzo (Halifax Wanderers)