UPDATE: Villa's home game against Cowichan FC on Saturday, February 1, has been postponed. Due to flooding on the Island Highway, Cowichan is unable to travel to Powell River.
Powell River Villa lost to Nanaimo United FC 2-1 on January 25 in the last scheduled road game for the 2020 season, putting the team three points inside the Division 1 relegation zone.
“It was a disappointing loss,” said Villa coach Chris McDonough. “With the whole [Vancouver Island Soccer League] cancelling the weekend of January 18 due to snow, it had been six weeks since our last game, and it took a little while to blow the rust off. We definitely rallied in the second half, and were just not able to score that tying goal.”
Nanaimo opened the scoring at 27 minutes.
“They came out aggressively in the beginning and had us pinned in our end for most of the first half,” said McDonough. “We were able to absorb the pressure for a while, but then they were able to capitalize with a goal, and then another nine minutes later.”
Villa changed its strategy in the second half, according to McDonough.
“We went into the second half with an attacking formation and were able to turn the momentum in our favour,” he said. “We created a lot of chances, including the one that led to our goal at 84 minutes. We pressed hard for the last six minutes and had lots of chances, but weren’t able to score another for the tie.”
The change in strategy for the second half gave players an opportunity to show the maturity they have developed in their first season in Division 1.
“It was a good adjustment on our part,” said McDonough. “We picked up the work rate and the level of play, which made it a close game. We were disappointed not to tie or win, but I am happy with the level of play and how this helps us going into our next three home games.”
McDonough had high praise for Villa keeper Matt Liknes.
“Matt has consistently had great games for us,” he said. “He made some incredible saves in both the first and second halves that kept the game close and gave us the opportunity to try for the tie.”
Villa plays the last three games of the season at home, starting by hosting Cowichan FC on Saturday, February 1. Kickoff is at 1:30 pm at Timberlane Park.
“Cowichan is third in the division, so this will be a tough game,” said McDonough. “But I firmly feel that when we have our full roster available, we are competitive against any team in the division.”
Villa is also preparing for the Sir John Jackson Cup match. A single knockout tournament, the Jackson Cup sees teams in Division 1 and 2 randomly placed in a bracket, where the winners advance to the next round. Villa will face Vic West at Timberlane Park on February 22.
“We tied with Vic West when they were here in November, so it will be a good, competitive game,” said McDonough. “We’re happy to get the home draw, so we can bring Jackson Cup soccer home to Powell River.”