Cowichan players Craig Gorman, Kevan Brown and Russell Lederer set up a wall in front of Darian Achurch’s net during Friday night’s 1-1 draw with Bays United. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Victory slips away from Cowichan LMG in tie with Bays

Two points slipped out of Cowichan LMG’s hands in a 1-1 tie with Bays United at the Sherman Road soccer turf on Friday night.

Cowichan took an early 1-0 lead, then missed several chances to add to it before ultimately surrendering a late tying goal.

“They’re a strong team,” Cowichan head coach Glen Martin said of Bays. “They’re gonna be right there, but the game should have been won and lost in the first half.”

Cowichan got off to an excellent start, and opened the scoring at seven minutes when the ball popped out of a corner-kick scramble to Kevan Brown and he fired his first goal of the season into the corner. It marked the ninth time in nine games this season that Cowichan has scored the first goal.

As the first half continued, further chances materialized, but Cowichan failed to capitalize on them. Govinda Innes hit the post, a chance out of a scramble was cleared off the line, and Steve Scott missed a header on a cross from Blaze Roberts.

“We had three opportunities to make it 2-0, but we couldn’t get the second goal,” Martin commented. “We were playing well enough to get it.”

The tide turned in the second half as Bays pressed hard for the equalizer.

“They played quite well, and we were defending way too much,” Martin noted. “They didn’t have chances to score, but they had a lot of possession and territory.”

Cowichan managed to keep everything to the outside, severely limiting what Bays could do, but the odds were not in the defenders’ favour.

“When you’re doing it that long, it catches up to you,” Martin said. “Sooner or later, something’s going to happen.”

Finally, at 72 minutes, a free kick missed its original mark but deflected right to former Cowichan star Paddy Nelson, who buried his eighth of the year.

“It cost us,” Martin said. “We gave the game away. We let them back in the game, and they finally got one on us.”

With the tie, the Vancouver Island Soccer League Div. 1 standings get even tighter. Cowichan, Bays, Westcastle and Lakehill are all tied for first with 18 points, although Westcastle has played eight games to the other teams’ nine. Gorge is a close fifth with 17 points.

Cowichan’s next game is a huge one as the team hosts Westcastle on Friday at 7:30 p.m. on the Keserich Field grass. The teams played to a 1-1 draw last time they met in the season opener at Royal Athletic Park. A loss to Westcastle would essentially put Cowichan six points back, which is a lot in such a tight race.

“This is the game of the year for us,” Martin said. “I think you’ll see a physical battle out there.”

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