February 7, 2019
From the Media Desk of the Fraser Valley Soccer League…
Week 18 provided our first major step towards crowning an Umbro Premier League champion as Port Moody have firmly place one hand on the title win the finish line in sight. It is far from over just yet however, as the Gunners still have a tough schedule to close out the campaign. The battle also remains fierce to finish inside the top three and guarantee a Provincial Cup place. Only three weeks remain, though, so it is time to get a move on if teams plan on climbing the table at the last minute!
Here’s a recap of all of this week’s action:
Chilliwack FC 3-2 Burnaby Firefighters – Friday 8pm; Tzeachten Turf #1
As can often be the case, a pair of teams at the wrong end of the table put on an entertaining affair in this one, even if, at times, it was not the prettiest football. Both Chilliwack and Burnaby are looking to avoid finishing second bottom and any possible threat of a relegation playoff. The home side came into this match a point ahead of their rivals and were able to extend that lead thanks in large part to a clutch performance from Trent Horne. Having not found the net since his lone goal of the season back in Week 2, Horne picked a marvelous time to rediscover his scoring touch, bagging a pair of vital goals for the ‘Wack. The East Valley side got another from Malcolm Stafford and were able to hold off a plucky Firefighters side that were not shy into the tackles, as always. Tyler Rosenlund was marshalling his troops as ever, turning it yet another standout performance in the centre of the park. His hard work help create openings for Steven Causier and Erik Rassmussen to respond to Chilliwack’s offense but, as has been the case on a few occasions this season, Burnaby simply could not find the crucial, game-changing goal when they needed it most. The win gives Chilliwack a four point cushion over second bottom Burnaby and Firefighters will need to catch fire themselves quickly if they are to make up that ground prior to the end of the season.
Port Moody Gunners 6-0 Coastal FC – Saturday 4pm; Trasolini Turf
What a result this was for Port Moody. That being said, despite the score line the match was a hard-fought affair that could have been very different if not for the stellar goalkeeping of Richard Meister in the Gunners net. Meister made some top drawer saves in the first half to preserve what was, at that time, a narrow advantage for Port Moody. They had been staked to that advantage when UPL leading scorer Graeme Meers converted a tenth minute penalty and then doubled their advantage five minutes later via a looping header from Vaughn Andrews. This had the Gunners cruising but, as mentioned, if not for some top goalkeeping to hold Coastal’s vaunted offense at bay we well could have been singing a different tune altogether. As the champions tried to fight their way back against the would-be champions, it was Meers once more who popped up to seal the game. Once more the goals for Port Moody came in rapid succession with Meers notching five minutes before half time and then finding another goal before the break to round out his hattrick and put this game to bed. The second half was all but a formality after the work Port Moody had put in during the first period. Meers would score his fourth of the game while Jordan Marini piled on a late sixth to add to Coastal’s woes. Adam Staschuk was a bright spot for Coastal on a night where they may well have lost more than just the match. The result leaves the visitors in third place, now four points back of Port Moody who control their own destiny and can claim the UPL title if they can amass seven points from their three remaining matches.
Abbotsford United 0-1 Langley United – Saturday 6pm; Mouat Turf #3
This was a very cagey affair, as it was evident that both sides new the importance of picking up three valuable points this late in the campaign. Abbotsford began brightly and their strong start saw them amass a handful of half chances and set pieces. Their clearest look came via leading scoring Reece Branion getting loose on a breakaway, only for Langley goalkeeper, and FVSL All-Star, Andrew Hicks to come up with the answer and slam the door on the forward. Langley weathered the early pressure and nearly took the lead when defender Brett Wantke saw his powerful header crash back off the post as the sides went into the break still scoreless. In the second half, Roshan Gosal and Parman Minhas entered the fray after knocks had kept them on the sidelines in the first half. Their introduction was almost a stroke of pure genius as Gosal slipped Minhas through on a breakaway of his own, only to find Hicks up to the task once more in the Langley goal. Gosal continued to display his usual standard, alongside midfield stalwart Tyson Hunter, and he set up Brady Weir for possibly the home side’s best chance of the match, on to see his finish go agonizingly the wrong side of the post. Just as it looked like the sides would split the points after a hard-fought match, Langley’s Tyson Keam popped up with the winner in injury time off a well struck free kick. It was a tough way for Abbotsford to lose after a good effort in which Sahib Phagura also deserve praise for his play. Despite being disappointed with the result, Abby manager Alan Alderson tried to focus on the positives. “I was really pleased with the way we started the game and in a tough, gritty contest was happy to see some of our skill players create some great opportunities,” he said, adding “I felt we did enough to win…and was really disappointed to have lost on a free kick right at the death. Still proud of our guys, happy we created some pretty opportunities and excited to see what we can get out of this season with a large group of young and promising players.” Alderson perhaps summed it up best, noting “Sometimes things don’t go your way.”
Temple Vancouver United 1-2 Surrey United Firefighters – Saturday 6pm; Hjorth Road #1
The valiant battle continues for Temple who, despite being all but assured of a last place finish, continue to turn in solid, hardworking performances, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. This week against Surrey was no different, a team with whom they have already had fierce encounters. This match followed a similar pattern to one of their previous meetings, with Surrey dominating possession, but Temple pulling out all the stops defensively to prevent conceding a goal. Once more, Temple would take a shock lead when Jakr Othman caught Surrey keeper Nuno Jesus off his line a quarter of an hour in and scored a fabulous goal from just across the half way line. Surrey must surely have thought the soccer gods were firmly against them as they felt they should already be comfortably ahead. They were able to breathe slightly easier when Josh Miles restored parity within ten minutes. It was a classy finish from Miles as he picked up the ball in stride before rounding a pair of defenders and the goal keeper before slotting into an unguarded goal. SFU midfielder Tudor Mihaila made his season debut for Surrey and was instrumental in a dominant midfield that included Raqi Amijee and Dave Adams. Despite this dominance, however, the minutes ticked by without further score as, to put it in the words of Surrey United assistant manager Dave Hleucka, “there seemed to be an invisible wall in front of the [Temple] net.” The winner would come late, just like last time these sides clashed, and it would be Miles again getting his name on the scoresheet as he toe-poked a finish mid-stride past the on-rushing Temple goalkeeper to secure Surrey the three points. Another narrow defeat for Temple, who got a solid performance out of Mudiwa Shoniwa, had manager Brad Dhillon lamenting that “in the second half Temple didn’t finish their chances” while Hleucka was relieved, feeling his side “really played well, despite the obvious lack of goals.”
BROWNS SOCIAL HOUSE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
This week’s Brown’s Social House Player of the week is once again Graeme Meers from Port Moody Gunners. The FVSL All-star and Golden Boot leader once more delivered the goods for the first place Gunners coming up with an incredible four goal performance in a match that has given him and his teammates a stranglehold on the UPL title race. He even outdid his own performance from last week where he recorded a hattrick, making it seven goals in two games at the most important time of the year! Congratulations Graeme, you have won a $25 gift card courtesy of Brown’s Social House!
THIS WEEK’S UPL SCHEDULE
Fri 02/08/2019 8:30PM Langley United v Chilliwack FC Yorkson Turf
Sat 02/09/2019 2:00PM Burnaby Firefighters vs. Temple VAN United Adanac Park
Sat 02/09/2019 4:00PM Port Moody Gunners vs. Surrey United Trasolini Turf
Sat 02/09/2019 4:00PM Coastal FC vs. Abbotsford United South Surrey Ath. #10
One to watch this week is Abbotsford’s visit to Coastal. The defending champions are reeling after being thumped by Port Moody last week. They now sit four points back of the Gunners with just three matches left to be played, meaning a further loss this weekend, combined with a Port Moody win, would see Coastal officially stripped of their crown. Abbotsford though will hardly be a soft touch as they have been surprising teams all season. At this point it would seem time that we let go of any lingering doubts about their ability to hang in at the upper reaches of the UPL table. A victory this week would see United climb into the top three; a position, that if they can maintain, would guarantee them a spot in this season’s Provincial Cup. Abby know all too well the dangers that can arise from finishing outside the top three, as last season they looked set to participate in the tournament after a fifth place finish, only to be supplanted at the last minute when Aldergrove won the Pakenham Cup. These two sides split their first two meetings, with the home side winning on both occasions. We shall have to wait and see if that trend will continue of if Abbotsford can break the pattern and claim the season series.
Of course, it is also worth keeping an eye on Port Moody’s title challenge. Surrey United will give them a stiff test and these sides have also split their season series to this point. Dropping points here would not be fatal to the Gunners, however, it would probably make things a little bit close for comfort. Meanwhile, Surrey are in the same boat as Abby as they look to vault into the top three, so there should be no shortage of motivation in their camp either.
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