It was a tough weekend for the Okanagan FC PCSL team, and not the start we were looking for as we opened our league campaign with back to back trips to Penticton and Kamloops.
Penticton Pinnacles 2-0 Okanagan FC
On Saturday, our local rivalry with Penticton resumed, and the match once again provided plenty of incident and talking points. Played in wet and slippery conditions at Kings Park, the game started brightly for OFC and the first half quickly developed a pattern of OFC being largely in control of possession, but Penticton looking dangerous on the counter attack. For all their possession though, the Okanagan team were unable to create too many real goal scoring opportunities, and it was Penticton who took the lead just before half time with a long range effort deflected past goalkeeper Harry Butler.
The second half became intense as Pinnacles looked to build on their advantage, and OFC needed to defend resolutely to stay in the game. The match threatened to boil over on several occasions…both sets of players desperate to kick off their campaigns with a positive result. OFC striker Kamen Wimbleton was unlucky to see his quick thinking from a free kick tipped over the bar by the Penticton keeper, and Brandon McCallum was inches away from an equalizer with a volley that flew into the side netting.
The all important second goal came mid way through the period…Penticton’s strike partnership are a real handful to deal with and caused problems for the OFC back line throughout the game. They combined together to get behind the OFC defense, and effectively finish the game. The visitors threw caution to the wind in the closing stages, and the game got pretty frantic, but Penticton were able to manage the game and close it out for a valuable home three points, probably just about deserved.
Kamloops Wolfpack 2-1 Okanagan FC
OFC had to pick themselves up for the Sunday trip to MacArthur Island Park, in Kamloops. This was another great game to watch between two evenly matched teams, both producing some very good quality soccer. The first half was very back and forth, with both teams creating chances. Okanagan FC came close to opening the scoring on several occasions…Spencer Young rattled the crossbar, and Kamen Wimbleton screwed his shot wide with only the keeper to beat. The visitors were frustrated with some of the referee’s decisions in this game, none more so than when Lucas Hicklin rounded the keeper and was brought down in the box, only for the penalty appeal to be waved away. Shortly after that it was Kamloops who took the lead following a defensive mistake from OFC…1-0 to Kamloops at half time.
The second half was again very evenly balanced as OFC went in search of an equalizer, sometimes leaving themselves exposed at the back to the counter attack. The equalizer did eventually come for the visitors though, as Spencer Young fired home after a bit of a scramble in the Kamloops box. The match looked to be heading for a tie when, in the final couple of minutes, another unfortunate defensive mistake resulted in a penalty for the home team. Kamloops made no mistake from the spot, and the final whistle was blown shortly afterwards. A harsh way to lose the game for Okanagan FC, but proof once again that the PCSL is going to be very tight this year with a fine line between winning and losing in matches which are very competitive indeed.
Next up for Okanagan FC is another tricky road trip to Vancouver Island this time, with back to back games against Victoria Highlanders on Saturday and Mid Isle Mariners on Sunday.