For the second time in as many road games against Nanaimo United, Cowichan LMG managed to fend off the host team and win 3-2.
Cowichan took a 3-1 lead in the first half of the Vancouver Island Soccer League Div. 1 game, then allowed one goal in the second but held on for the win over the pesky Nanaimo team.
“We hung in and closed it out,” Cowichan head coach Glen Martin said. “We played really well. Nanaimo was tough. They didn’t go away. They kept working hard.”
Cowichan took a season-high 15 players on the road and got off to an excellent start.
“We started out very strong,” Martin said. “We dominated the game. We outplayed them pretty well. They couldn’t get out of their own end.”
When they did get out of their own end, Nanaimo capitalized, generating a scoring chance on the counterattack, then converting on a corner kick.
Cowichan went right back to work, and tied it up soon after on Craig Gorman’s third goal of the year at 31 minutes.
“That was a big goal for us,” Martin said. “We were playing well. It was probably the best half we’ve played all year.”
Farley Cannon scored his first of the year just two minutes later, and Cowichan was sitting in front.
“That was kind of where we should have been anyway, but it felt good,” Martin said.
Cooper Barry added his second of the season before the first half was over, and Cowichan led by two goals. Martin still wasn’t comfortable, though, knowing Nanaimo would be back with a vengeance when the game resumed.
“They never give up,” he said. “We knew going out in the second half that it would be crucial to get the next goal.”
Nanaimo battled hard in the second half, and changed up their formation on their field, and managed to make it 3-2 15 minutes into the second half. Cowichan managed to prevent them from scoring the tying goal, and escaped Nanaimo with the win. In three games against North Island teams — Campbell River, Comox and Nanaimo — Cowichan has picked up three wins and nine points in the standings.
“It’s going to be hard for the rest of the league to do that,” Martin said.
The win was a team effort, Martin said, but a handful of players stood out, including former pro Thomas Mallette, who made his Cowichan debut in the second half.
Govinda Innes earned the hard hat for his effort against Nanaimo.
“He was tireless,” Martin said. “He never stopped running. He played a couple of different positions. His work rate was so high, he stands out.”
Former Nanaimo player Jamie Taylor was named Cowichan’s game MVP after a brilliant effort against his old team.
“He was very strong in the midfield. He played 90 minutes as our centre holding midfielder alongside Kevan Brown. He’s finding his own space out there.”
Through five games this fall, the Cowichan players have proven that they can score goals, averaging a league-high three per game, but the team defence hasn’t been up to Martin’s standards.
“We need to be harder to score on,” he said. “We need to start concentrating more on defence. We’ve been averaging a half a goal a game the last few years. We’ve allowed eight goals already this year. That has been a whole season for us before.”
Next up, fourth-place Cowichan will play second-place Vic West at the Sherman Road turf at 7 p.m. on Friday.
“We’re finally playing a team that’s ahead of us in the standings,” Martin said, noting that Vic West was nearly relegated last year, but sits in second place right now.
First-place Bays United has 15 points in the standings, followed by Vic West with 14, Gorge FC with 13, and Cowichan with 12. Cowichan has a game in hand on all the teams ahead of them.
Once again, Bow-Mel Chrysler will provide free coffee and hot chocolate at Friday’s home game.