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Panthers pounce

Monday, 23rd September, 2019

West Panther’s Jordan Cox (left) and Shane Hayward hold up the League Champions’ trophy. PICTURE: Callum Marshall West Panther’s Jordan Cox (left) and Shane Hayward hold up the League Champions’ trophy. PICTURE: Callum Marshall

By Callum Marshall

The A grade soccer grand final was promised to be a cracker, and it didn’t disappoint with a high-scoring, back-and-forth, fiery game seeing West crowned Premiers after extra time.

Right from the start the game was played at an electric pace, with Panthers’ Madden Paul, Zane Kemp and Shane Hayward closing down St Joes’ passes, holding onto the ball well and winning setting up several attacks.

The Panthers’ early pressure told as Chris West scored the team’s first goal of the match with a strike on the left side of the St Joes box, which managed to slip past a number of players and goalkeeper Cooper Flemming. 

With the game being played at such a fast pace tempers began to flare as well, with players picking up yellow cards for fouls and dissent.

With West well on top in the early stages of the game, St Joes had to work hard to keep hold of the ball and set up their own chances.

As the half wore on, St Joes began fashioning some great chances of their own, with left-winger Ryle McInnes’ pace and tricky footwork seeing him get past the West backline on a number of occasions.

St Joes’ players Rob James, Pat Nash and Steve Grillett were starting to see more of the ball as well, with the three exchanging a lovely set of passes with McInnes to set up a good chance.

West were still putting on the pressure though, and had their own speedy player causing problems in Jordan Cox.

At the end of the first half though, there was just the one goal separating the sides. 

When the second half got underway, the play was quick once again with both sides losing the ball on a number of occasions with wayward passing, through balls and clearances.

Cox and McInnes were looking threatening once more for their respective teams with both players being set up well by their teammates either up front (Cox) or on the wing (McInnes.)

While St Joes had started to build up pressure once more it was the Panthers who scored again, with Cox going on a great run, beating several defenders and slotting past the keeper to make it 2-0 for West.

St Joes kept pushing for a goal though, and got themselves into the game after winning a penalty which Rob James put away well. 

As the game headed into the last 20 minutes it was St Joes who were looking the more threatening.

The side thought they’d got their equalising goal after McInnes was set up nicely and put the ball in the West goal.

However, the goal was disallowed for offside and after McInnes got angry at the linesman’s call, the winger was given a red card for his second yellow card of the game.

Down to nine outfield players, St Joes kept coming though and got a late equaliser after a fantastic long-range strike from Matt Muscat.

What was looking like a relatively straightforward Panthers win had suddenly turned into a tense thriller, with the sides 2-2 after 90 minutes.

With the game heading into extra time, West had to find that level they showed in the first half again with St Joes carrying all the momentum despite being a man down.

After a great long-range shot by St Joes in the early stages of extra time, the Panthers did manage to find that level again with midfielders Kemp, Paul and Hayward putting sustained pressure on St Joes once more.

Their hard work paid off with West managing to get in front again following a corner kick as Cox stabbed home the ball after scrappy play in the St Joes box.

St Joes still had time to find another equaliser, but as the two halves of extra time wore on, West looked more likely to score and they did when Bryant Mitchell grabbed a fourth for the side.

Ashton Reed added a fantastic fifth goal for the Panthers as well, scoring a spectacular close-range bicycle kick.

While St Joes worked hard to find a way back into the game, the accumulation of yellow cards had hurt the side with a second player, Jyh Stubing, sent off in the late stages of the game.

For the Panthers, the result means their A grade side took out the full trifecta of wins this year: the premiership, league championship and Knock Out Cup trophies.

 

RESULT

West 5 (C. West, J. Cox (2), B. Mitchell, A. Reed) def St Joes 2 (R. James, M. Muscat) A.E.T

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