Home openers are always fun and exciting occasions. It’s the start of a new season, bringing all the hopes and aspiration that go with that, realistic or not! When it’s your first ever home opener, in your first ever season, well that’s just all the more special.
And that’s what TSS Rovers had at Swangard Stadium on Friday night after their first two PDL games on the road in Calgary last weekend.
A perfect start to their home campaign was denied by a late defensive blunder, and in the end they were hanging on to secure just a point, but it was a promising performance, with some standout individual performances on display and a lot to look forward to for the remainder of the season.
Plus they’re now only on a points total of minus two. Nearly back to where they started!
After a day of weird weather in Vancouver and Burnaby, the weather gods shone favourably on TSS for a rain free night of football on the grass of Swangard, bringing back happy memories of the ‘Caps in their D2 days, with a beautiful setting, fans right around the pitch and close to the action, and some great local talent fighting for the jersey.
A healthy crowd (which looked to be in the 600-700 range) headed along for TSS’ first ever home match, despite the alternative attractions of the ‘Caps on TV and standing outside of BC Place for hours waiting to get in to see U2. Those who made the trip were served up an entertaining game of football, with end to end action and four goals.
The early action was fairly even. Lane United may have even shaved it, but slowly TSS started to look the more dangerous going forward, with Zach Verhoven electric on the right wing and Kristian Yli-Hietanen proving a handful for the visiting defence.
But it was Lane United who opened the scoring in the 29th minute when Akeem Ward sent a great ball into the box and Vicente Mora was allowed time to bring it down and fire home under Andrew Hicks.
That lead was to only last for five minutes before Verhoven showed great work and hustle to get into the box, hitting the byeline before squaring the ball for Yli-Hietanen to deftly flick the ball home at the near post. His second of the season, and you can be sure there’s a lot more where those came from.
The teams went in level at the half, with Rovers feeling they must have been in the ascendency, and although both teams continued to get forward in the second, you felt the home side had what it took to get the breakthrough and they got it in the 63rd minute when Verhoven was bundled over in the box as he was in on goal and about to get off a shot.
Under the old rules, it would have been a sending off, but instead TSS had to just be content with a penalty and substitute Mamadi Camara coolly fired home to put Rovers 2-1 up.
Sensing blood, TSS piled forward, and Camara was causing the Lane defence no end of problems. The SFU Clan midfielder was sent crashing in the box moments later but this time there was no penalty call. Then came what you could say was the decisive moment of the match, when the ball broke to Joel Waterman in the box and with a great chance to add a TSS third, he blasted over from an excellent position.
Was it a miss that was to cost TSS? Sadly, yes.
There had been a lot of giveaways throughout the match and Lane’s equaliser came from the quick reactions of Jordan Jones, who pounced on sloppy defensive play to get in on goal, round Hicks, and slot home in the 74th minute to make it 2-2.
After that, Lane took over and look the more likely side to come away with all three points. TSS bent but didn’t break. If there had been more time to play, you couldn’t confidently say that that would have remained the case. But they did, and with no further goals, TSS claimed their first ever PDL point.
With games in Portland on Tuesday and at home to Calgary on Friday, they’ll be hoping for a few more before the week’s out.
AFTN photographer Tom Ewasiuk was there to capture all the action before, during and after the game. Here’s his “Story In Pictures”, with a full Flickr slideshow at the end.[Also check out Tom’s website www.residualimagephotography.com for more of his photos and work].
The TTS Rovers players of tomorrow watching the players of today
TSS Rovers first ever home starting XI
Respect to the travelling Red Aces from Eugene
Zach Verhoven was TSS’ danger man from the start
Kristian Yli-Hietanen was also proving a menace to the Lane defence, flicking this near post head across goal
But it was lane who opened to scoring in the 29th minute when Vicente Mora put away Akeem Ward’s cross
But five minutes later, Verhoven powered through the Lane defence
Crossing for Yli-Hietanen to deftly tuck it away at the near post for a 34th minute equaliser
The Swanguardians celebrate
TSS head coach Colin Elmes was delighted too
Thinks got a littly chippy in the second half, but Connor Hildebrandt was taking no crap
Then in the 63rd minute, Verhoven is sent crashing in the box when through on goal
Mamadi Camara steps up to take the penalty
Drilling it home to put TSS into a 2-1 lead
The Rovers celebrate
And the smoke is fired up once again
Minutes later Camara’s shows great footwork to get into the box
And is clearly chopped down, but this time there’s no penalty given
And TSS’ failure to take their chances costs them in the 74th minute when Jordan Jones pounces on a defensive blunder
Rounding Andrew Hicks and slotting home to bring Lane level at 2-2
Lane pushed hard for the winner but despite bending, the TSS defence held firm
A 2-2 final and it was great to see football back at Swangard again
You can see all of Tom’s photos from the game HERE and in our full Flickr slideshow below:
And if you missed the match, you can watch the replay, with AFTN’s call, HERE.