Following a 2:0 defeat to Vancouver United Saturday, Victoria Highlanders FC carried play in a fast paced, entertaining match Sunday for the first sixty minutes, then held on with clutch goal keeping to draw Vancouver Thunderbirds (UBC) 1:1 in Pacific Coast Soccer League action. The single point keeps the Highlanders in top place in league standings, though they now share the roost with Mid-Island Mariners. Highlanders hold 10 points from seven games. Mariners hold two games in hand.
Highlanders striker pairing of Craig Gorman and Paddy Nelson tested the Thunderbirds keeper in the opening half from numerous forays into the attacking third of the field but were unable to find the scoring touch. The opening half ended with no goals being scored.
Creative and active energy was carried forward in the second half with added numbers into the attack. Full back, Andrew Ravenhill made things happen with frequent attacks on goal. A header from a cross sailed over the bar (47’), he then skins a Thunderbird defender and attacks the goal only to be denied (56’). A minute later, Ravenhill is fed a clever breakaway pass by midfielder, Tarnvir Bhandal. He is fouled on the play, but the ball found the net for the Highlander lead at 1:0. Ravenhill kept the press in his attack with a cross by him into the goal area just missing the reach of midfielder, Mackenzie Cole only a minute later.
As with two games on consecutive days, legs began to tire. Thunderbirds began to take the play and scored from the left foot of Boris Si (65’) from eight yards out. Keeper, Noah Pawlowski played hero in the final five minutes tipping a game saver over the bar (85’) and a final big save (88’), keeping the game knotted at 1:1
“Some of our best and most consistent entry into the attacking third so far”, noted by David Dew, head coach. “We just need to fine tune the final product in front of goal”.
Highlanders FC continue their current five game road swing with games Saturday, May 30th in Kamloops (6pm kick-off)versus the Heat and Sunday afternoon in the Fraser Valley versus Abbotsford Magnuson Ford FC (2pm kick-off).
Highlanders next home match is Saturday, June 13th vs. Khalsa Sporting Club, a 4pm kick-off at Royal Athletic Park.