Unlike last weekend, there were no late heroics required by the Victoria Highlanders on Saturday as they easily disposed of the visiting Tim Hortons Pinnacles of Penticton 4-1 at Royal Athletic Park.
Two goals in the opening 10 minutes gave the hosts an early lead before an announced crowd of 475 fans to keep the local lads without a loss in the Pacific Coast Soccer League, improving to two wins and a tie.
The Highlanders will attempt to do it all over again today at 2 p.m. at RAP as the FC Tigers of Vancouver come calling.
Last weekend, the Highlanders required late goals in both outings to pull off the tie and a win. This time, coach Dave Dew could save the chomping of his fingernails.
“To be honest, I was getting a bit concerned, to be up 2-0 after 10 minutes. I thought this thing could be done and dusted quick and I started thinking about who I was going to put in at halftime,” Dew said of the early advantage.
“Then, all of a sudden, we let it get away, again, to the same thing we talked about. Somebody makes a bad decision and we’re pulling it out of our goal.”
There was little to worry about, however.
Paddy Nelson set up the two quick strikes, the first off a corner where he relayed the cross to Craig Gorman just seven minutes in. Then, Nelson fed Manny Gomez three minutes later, as he shifted to his left foot to beat Pinnacles’ goalkeeper Colton Cook. But Mitchell Popadynetz curled a low shot to Highlanders’ keeper Noah Pawlowski’s left at 32 minutes in to make a game of it.
Victoria had a goal taken back on an offside after a lengthy discussion among the officials just six minutes into the second half. Then came a critical point when Penticton’s James Taylor was ejected on a red card 67 minutes into the game.
Substitute Mackenzie Cole made it 3-1 Highlanders, gobbling up a mistake by defender Toby Woodtaker in the 76th minute, and Gorman added his second less than two minutes later.
“We struggled a little bit in the first half. I thought we were rushing things too much, maybe over-eager to play,” said Gorman, who will head into his fifth year at UVic in late August.
“It was the dagger of a 2-0 lead. We got a little too lackadaisical and we let them back into it,” he added. “Luckily, we were able to turn it around in the second half. We had much more room when they went down to 10 men.”