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Victory elusive pitch for team

Strong defence against division leader leads to tie
Glen Gibbs

Visibility was reduced at Timberlane Park on Sunday, January 20, but Powell River Villa’s objective was clear as day.

The team was up against Vancouver Island Soccer League division two leader Lakehill United 2 from Victoria, but after leading for most of the game settled for a single point in the 1-1 tie.

Villa started the game smartly with crisp passing and an attack that caught Lakehill defenders on their heels several times.

Just seven minutes in, a through ball to Sean Jenkins caught the Victoria squad flat-footed and he sped in alone to beat the keeper cleanly.

Lakehill loudly protested for an offside call from the linesman but, after checking, the referee ruled the goal a good one and Villa led early 1-0.

It kept up the pace and a cross from Brody Harry deep, that skittered by Jenkins and David Bertrand, was one of several more attacks on the Lakehill goal.

Villa was also very good on free kicks and used the height of Ben Elliot a couple of times setting him up in the box to flick two good chances on net.

“We had a great deal of possession in the first half,” said midfielder Mario Paul. “We looked good with good passes and were on point. Sean Jenkins got a beautiful goal and timed his run nicely and was able to finish.”

Despite Villa’s position in the division, Paul wasn’t at all surprised to be leading at the half. “We expect to be in every game,” he said. “Our results aren’t indicative of our play and we’ve been unlucky not to be more successful than we have been. We always have the confidence that we are a better team than the other side.”

The coach’s message at half time was keep composure, keep possession, play with confidence and be defensively sound.

That said, Villa came out determined to fend off Lakehill, but as time ticked away the division leaders began to exert more pressure.

Play was even for the first 10 minutes and although Lakehill started to get some chances, keeper Matt Liknes had a relatively easy day.

That’s not to say he wasn’t sharp. When a Lakehill striker broke free and pushed the ball ahead a bit too far, Liknes rushed out to slide and cover up.

Villa weathered the brief burst of energy from Lakehill and even took the play the other way, but with just five minutes to go, Lakehill worked the ball into the Villa half of the pitch.

A series of passes from one side to the other 25 yards out were of no concern to the line of Villa defenders who watched carefully. However, a long, low, hard shot was taken that seemed to surprise them and found the bottom corner of the net.

The result was heartbreaking for sure, but nonetheless it was a great effort for Villa against a very good team.

“Late in the second half,” said Paul, “we got a little complacent and gave them one shot on net. No shots on net is a pretty big statement insofar as our defensive side is concerned. Unfortunately, they did get that one shot and it did manage to make the back of the net.”

Coach Jamie Zroback noted the absence of captain Kye Taylor due to an injury and others like Brandon Knox and Dean Thorsell. “Over the history of this club guys are called upon to step up,” he said. “I thought Joel Harry had one hell of a game today. Nick van’t Schip, even though he didn’t score, have you ever seen him that physical? He was amazing. And Jordan Peters, those are the guys that need to do it for us and they did.”

Villa will attempt to build on Sunday’s performance with a good road game mid-afternoon on Sunday, January 27 against Cowichan United 2.