A stunning three-goal comeback in the last 30 minutes of play gave Powell River Villa a road point and a draw in Nanaimo over the weekend, ending the dramatic match at 3-3.
The first few minutes of the play revealed a strong match-up against Nanaimo United. Villa controlled play and created a few chances on goal.
Villa called up three players, Jake Kenmuir, Brody Harry and Nico Cristante, from Mid Isle Mariners FC U21, to help fill the roster Saturday evening. However, a red card at the 15-minute mark against Cristante set the tone for the rest of the match as Villa had to play a man short.
A Nanaimo forward tripped after pulling out of an arm tussle, resulting in the foul on Cristante, who has been a big help for Villa on the road. With two suspensions now, there is a chance Cristante could sit for the rest of the season.
Villa head coach Chris McDonough called the play an unfortunate mistake. "I think the ref kind of missed that one," he said.
Down a player, Villa's defence was pressed and within 10 minutes Nanaimo tapped in the first goal.
"There was a little bit of breakdown on our end. We kept pushing it though. We didn't play much worse being down a man; still creating chances," said McDonough.
At the end of the first half, Matt Liknes blocked a shot with his head, which left the Villa goalkeeper dazed, forcing him to sit out the rest of the match. To add insult to injury, Nanaimo scored on the ensuing rebound, putting the home team up 2-0.
With Liknes sidelined, defender David Bertrand took over in goal. Villa regrouped and came out strong in the second half, but a third Nanaimo goal at the 65-minute mark left the club scrambling to hang on.
Villa captain and most valuable player Kye Taylor took charge and led the club, bringing the match to centre-mid-field and putting Villa in control.
Taylor admitted being down three goals can be a tough task when down two players.
"We managed to keep working and keep battling; there was nothing to lose at that point. Once the ball gets rolling, it's hard for the other team to turn it back around," said Taylor.
An outside pass crossed from Harry to Kenmuir with 20 minutes remaining gave Villa its first goal and was a turning point for the club.
After a couple of close shots on net, striker Robert Devlin converted a shot to reduce the deficit to one goal. With five minutes left on the clock, a scramble for the ball among several fallen players led to an accumulation of yellow cards and one red card for Nanaimo, which put the clubs back on even terms.
In a last ditch effort, Dean Thorsell scored the tying goal during the last few moments of play.
"That was probably the biggest comeback I've been a part of as coach," said McDonough. "It was quite exciting and a well-deserved road point for us."
Villa's next action is at home on Sunday, January 31, at Timberlane Park against current division leaders Cermaq City Wave FC2. Game time is 1:30 pm.