When the PCSL fixture list was released at the start of the year, this looked like a very difficult mid season road trip for the new Okanagan FC PCSL team….back to back away matches with powerhouse club, and top of the league Surrey Utd, followed by current PCSL league champions Khalsa Sporting Club.
Surrey United 0-1 Okanagan FC
OFC were struggling with injuries going into this game, but that was not at all noticeable as the match kicked off and OFC immediately went on the offensive, controlling possession of the ball for long periods and coming close to scoring on several occasions. The opening half hour followed the same pattern, and Surrey were definitely taken aback by the quality of the OFC team. Tempers became frayed as the home side failed to get a grip on the game and, towards the end of the first half, the match developed into a more scrappy affair. OFC lost their rhythm a bit and, having failed to take advantage of their good start, found themselves suddenly under pressure as Surrey looked to make use of one of a number of free kicks conceded around the edge of the box. OFC were thankful to hear the HT whistle and were able to regroup during the interval.
The second half was very even, and continued to be a bad tempered match…there was nothing to choose between the two teams, and it became apparent that a single goal would be enough to settle the game. The breakthrough came on 55 minutes when Alex Thompson got the wrong side of his defender and drove past him, drawing a clumsy challenge from the Surrey player….the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and it was Thompson himself who stepped confidently up and drilled home the penalty.
Surrey tried in vain to get the equalizer…the OFC back four stayed solid and centre backs Sam McDonald and Shaun Pilcher were in no mood to let go of a precious lead in a very important match. Full time came and OFC celebrated what looked like an unlikely 3 points.
Khalsa Sporting Club 0-2 Okanagan FC
On Sunday, OFC travelled to New Westminster to take on Khalsa in another difficult game. Khalsa started the match very brightly and OFC were on the back foot for most of the first half. Once again though, the Okanagan back line stood firm, with goalkeeper Harry Butler behind them in great form. Like the previous day, the visitors were glad to hear the half time whistle and be able to regroup and make some changes.
The second half was completely different, with OFC looking much better organized and more dangerous in attack. The game turned into a real back and forth match between two good teams playing nice soccer. The better goalscoring chances were falling to OFC, however, and they were looking the more likely team to break the deadlock.
Pacey winger Christian Artavia was causing the home defence a lot of issues, and it was him who opened the scoring in the 77th minute, beating the keeper from close range. Khalsa immediately went on all out offensive, looking to tie the game up. Three minutes into stoppage time, the hosts threw everybody including the keeper into the OFC box for a corner. Goalkeeper Harry Butler topped off a fine performance by catching the ball under severe pressure and launching it down the other end to set striker Randy Hubber up for a breakaway goal, which he netted in style. Final score 2-0 to the visitors.
A fantastic weekend for OFC….extending their unbeaten run to 5 matches as we move into the second half of the season, and moving into the playoff places