Sunday, August 16, 2009

Match Report: Vancouver Whitecaps v Carolina Railhawks (USL-1)

Vancouver Whitecaps came away from their home game against the Carolina Railhawks with a point last night, but despite that being good enough to still hold on to their playoff position, the Caps came away feeling that it was two points lost.

The first half was a pretty even affair, with the Railhawks testing Jay Nolly a couple of times in the Whitecaps goal but with little trouble to big Vancouver shot stopper.

Vancouver thought they had taken the lead on 26 minutes when Marlon James had the ball in the net at the third attempt, after Caleb Patterson-Sewell had kept out his first two efforts, but the referee adjudged a foul and the goal was ruled out.

That was the closest any side came to scoring in the first half. With three points somewhat of a necessity to boost their playoff hopes, the Whitecaps took control of the game in the second forty-five.

Jay Nolly was left as an onlooker, with most of the play taking place in the Railhawks half, but despite the constant pressure the Caps attack could find a way past the Carolina goalie.

The chance of the night fell to Marlon James after 63 minutes.

Charles Gbeke brilliantly got on the end of a Ansu Toure cross at the back post and as his header flashed across the goalmouth, it came off the near post, right into the path of James one yard out. The ball somehow got cleared by a desperate Hawks defence before he could knock it home, after it initially bounced off his shins.

James had a penalty appeal waved away a little later, but there was to be no reward for their waves of pressure, with the Carolina defence standing strong all night.

It was a tremendous defensive performance from Mark Schulte and Brad Rusin in particular. Both players dealt with everything thrown at them with ease, seemingly towering over the tall Caps strikers in the process. I would certainly be glad to see either of them in a Caps jersey next season.

With Vancouver's home form being strong this season, taking full points at Swangard is a must if they are to make the playoffs and frustrating games like last night's will only make the battle with Montreal and Miami all the more tight.

With two tough away games in three days next week against two title chasers in Carolina again and Charlston, Vancouver have to take something from both games to keep their playoff hopes alive and try and get some momentum going with nine games left.

Next Sunday's home game against Miami has never looked more important.

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