Panthers travelled to Whaddon Rec on Saturday to play league fixtures against 2 of the high flying teams in the league. Before the weekend, both Charlton and Leckhampton sported 100% records, with the former having not even conceded a goal in their 5 matches.
It was always going to be a tough day, but the team put in a remarkable effort. With all 14 players available, the tactics were to play one team of 7 in the first half of each game, and a different 7 in the second half of each game.
Panthers played Charlton Rovers first, who had most of the early pressure. Alex Fulford pushed a free kick wide, and there was plenty of last ditch defending in goal mouth scrambles. The only real effort in the first half from Panthers, was a long range effort from Austin Plemel which was only a few feet wide. Charlton Rovers did grab the only goal of the first half when an effort from wide left of the goal, was left by Alex Fulford who thought it was going wide, but it sneeked inside the near post.
The second half Panthers team, really got more into the game from the off, and started to create chances. Charlton were restricted in their efforts, trying to hit on the break, with one effort well saved by Ethan Streatfield. However, on one occasion where Charlton got forward, they managed to add a second goal, when Panthers failed to clear a corner and lost out in the goal mouth scramble.
Despite that setback, Panthers did increase the pressure. Anna Barnes released Tom Mason down the left wing, who beat 2 Charlton players before crossing for Charlie Holliday to slide it under the keeper for a goal on his league debut. Panthers did have the majority of play after that, with a number of efforts being saved, inches wide or good chances prevented at the last minute. The match finishing 2-1.
Panthers really failed to come out of the starting blocks for the second game. Within the first few minutes, Leckhampoton had a corner, Panthers defence left players free in the box, and a loose ball was smashed home for the first goal. This was despite the efforts of Robin Hanman who got kicked in the ankle trying to prevent a shot, and had to be substituted for Anna Barnes.
The Leckhampton pressure continued, a missed clearance in defence left a Leckhampton player to score the 2nd in off the bar. More space in the last 3rd allowed a shot across the box from Leckhampton, which despite a great effort to clear, resulted in James Bennett to put into his own net. Leckhampton were playing some great football, easy passing and retaining possession.
In the one break that Panthers managed in the first half, Ben Murphy played a great ball to release Toby Scott through on the Leckhampton goal, and Toby finished well to give Panthers some belief.
However, Leckhampton still played the better football, and scored a penalty following hands in the box from Maddie Power, and a further goal, when Alex Fulford left a long range effort to go over the bar.... but it dipped under. Half Time - 5-1!!
The second half, was much much better. Panthers settled into the game, created chances, and some would say were then the better side. This culminated in the only goal in the half, when a throw in went to Charlie Holliday who crossed, and Robin Hanman (back from injury for second half) hit an unstoppable shot in off the post.
Other than the first half of the second game, Panthers really made a good account of themselves, in what was always going to be a tough weekend. There were many positives. The match against Charlton, on any other day, could have been a draw or even better. The 2nd half display against Leckhampton prooved that we were more than a match for them.
There were many contenders for Player of the Week. Robin Hanman had a great game in defence, and this was recognised post match, by the managers of the other teams. However, for a goal on his debut, a great contribution, and popular recognition of these facts from his team-mates, the Player of the Week went to Charlie Holliday.
We took a mix of Panthers and Colts players over to Highnam today, to play a couple of games in which we enjoyed good possesion and plenty of goals.
"Team Russ" played the first half with the advantage of the slope and contained the whole period in the Highnam half of the pitch. Good pressure early on resulted in a quick goal. Tom Mason pushed down the right and crossed in for Toby Scott to open the scoring.
The pressure was maintained, with Ben Murphy hitting the post and putting a shot inches wide. Then we had a goal from Tom Mason ruled out, for a hand ball in the goalmouth scramble. The second goal soon followed, when Toby Scotts corner was played to Tom Pritchard on the edge of the box, who lobbed it over the keeper.
The 3rd goal, was scored by Ben Murphy, when he muscled his way through the Highnam defence and placed a shot wide of the keeper. This was shortly followed by the forth goal, when Toby Scott hit a remarkable lob of the keeper, when he was on the goal line to the right hand side of the goal.
The second half was a little less dominant, playing uphill and allowing Highnam to play with an extra player. However, Panthers did create the majority of chances, with Ben Murphy hitting the woodwork on at least one occasion. Highnam's best chance came when their forward took the ball around our keeper, but managed to push the ball wide of an empty net from 5 yards.
The game was capped by the best goal of the match, late in the second half. James Bennett in goal, kicked out to Toby Scott, who neatly flicked the ball to Ethan Streatfield on the right wing. After a short burst down the wing, Ethan played a slide rule pass for Ben Murphy, who got to the goal line and crossed the ball back into the box for Tom Mason to score. A fantastic goal.
"Team Lorne" played at the same time. This team went on to win 8-0. A great result. See a report from Lorne below:
While everyone played really well, and all contributed, Oliver Leathem-Pugh was nominated by Lorne as our Player of the Week.
Team Lorne - I expected to come and relax while watching this friendly match however, I was asked to assist with coaching the one team and gladly accepted. The day started out with some great drills and warm ups during a training session. I could clearly see a good improvement in positional play and how the team has continued to improve their skills and developed a could grasp on positional play and football sense, in other words players were communicating very well by calling for passes, passing to where the player is going not to where the player was, finding open space and controlling the play by keeping control of the ball and of course lots of shooting and going to the net for the rebounds. We had a strong lineup with Charlie as the goal keeper, Jazton and Edward on defence, Ollie in the hole, Sam, Josh and Shunta as midfielders and Austin as the striker. We dominated the the first half with a number of shots on goal and corner kicks. We had a couple early goals by Josh, Shunta, Ollie and a couple good chances by Austin who put it over the goal and a great save by the Highnam goalkeeper. What I noticed was the great second effort by our team when they missed a tackle or a pass they kept up the pressure by getting back into the play, trying to make the tackle, and kept on trying to gain control of the ball and never gave up. Our defence was great at intercepting passes and reading the plays Well Done! Ollie had a number of great corner kicks always trying to put it into the penalty area with Sam, Josh, Austin and Shunta moving around trying to find open space and keeping their opponents off balance and this created a number of scoring opportunities that the team capitalized on when Josh, Sam and Shunta all scored off good placed passes by Ollie and Austin. The second half was a bit slower the players were all getting tired and the Highnam team had a few more scoring opportunities but team Lorne kept up the pressure and ended the game with 8 goals. Austin and Jazton switched off as the goal keepers with a strong defence who moved the ball forward and out of our end. Our position during the second half was not as as good as the first half which created some scoring opportunities for Highnam. Our defence decided they wanted to be strikers and were well forward on a number of occasions however Josh, Austin and Ollie had great situational awareness and dropped back onto defence a number of times when they saw there own defence had moved up into the play. Well done for this football sense and awareness to move back on defence and cover the gap. I picked Ollie as the player of the week as he had tremendous focus, never gave up and set a great example and attitude for his team mates. He was always in the right place for a pass or to give a pass to create a scoring chance and he played his position with determination while tackling or while in our zone defencing. Picking the player of the week was difficult as Josh and Ausitn also had outstanding games especially their tackling, second effort, team play, controlling the ball, passing, scoring and covering back on defence and trying to catch the break away plays when the Highnam players got in behind our defence. All in all it was a great effort by everyone and great team play. Well done to all players and keep up the great effort.
Churchdown Panthers took 13 players to play in the preliminary round for the Under 9 League Cup, sealing progression to the first round proper, after a 3-1 win on penalties.
Overall the match was very even. Southside went close within the first minute, but Churchdown put their stamp on the match, controlling posession in midfield. Panthers did most of the pressing in the first half, with a string of advanced throw ins and corners, but could not create a clear cut chance.
The second half started brightly for Panthers, with possession deep in the Southside half. The pressure paid off after about 5 minutes, when Toby Scott made space on the corner of the box and drilled the ball with the outside of his boot, inside the keepers near post.
Southside repsonded well to going behind, and mid way through the second half a lofted forward ball,, found an open Panthers defence, and their forward let the ball bounce once, before expertly lobbing Alex Fulford running out of goal.
The equaliser pushed Southside on more, and they controlled a large period of the second half, before some changes brought back a bit of stability for Panthers.
Extra time was a bit end to end, with the best 2 chances falling to Panthers. Toby Scott drilled another great shot across the keeper, who parried it a little, and Shun-Ta Cheong couldn't quite get there at the back post. Good pressure from a corner, also saw the ref blow for hand ball, which appeared to be a good yard inside the box, but was given outside. Toby Scott sent the resultant free kick over the bar.
So we went into penalties.
Southside won the toss and opted to go first. Alex Fulford got good hands to the first penalty, but not quite enough to turn it around the post, 0-1. Robin Hanman stepped up first for Panthers, smashing the ball high into the roof of the net 1-1. Alex Fulford then saved the next penalty for Southside. Ben Murphy took Panthers 2nd, and again found the roof of the net, 2-1. Alex Fulford then saved the Southside 3rd spot kick. Josh Bird stepped up 3rd for Panthers, but put his agonisingly over the bar. When Southside hit the bar with their 4th penalty,, it gave Oliver Leathem-Pugh the opportunity to seal victory after 4 spot kicks, which he did.
It was a really good game, even if a bit of an emotional rollercoaster! It was always going to be tough trying to give every player some time on the pitch, so consistency was difficult with the number of substitutions, but everyone played their part and did really well.
Unfortunately I have mislaid the pad on which I made match notes, so not such a comprehensive report sorry!
Based on recent form it was anticipated that we were going in to some very tough fixtures this weekend, and that proved to be the point. Not taking away some overall great performances on a really hot morning in Cheltenham.
The first game against Lakeside was mostly back to the walls, sustaining continued pressure. We battled hard in the first half but went in at half time 2-0 down.
It was much the same story in the 2nd half. There were a couple of errors that led to goals, and moments where we left space at the back, but Lakeside also demonstrated some great finishing. It was tough going and Lakeside added another 3 goals in the 2nd half.
The performance was greatly improved in the 2nd game, and we held Saracens for large periods of he match, with a few chances created by ourselves.
Saracens broke the deadlock when a goal kick was intercepted and the left the striker to finish from 1 on 1. Despite the one error, Alex Fulford pulled out some great saves in goal, up to the point where a 50:50 challenge for a loose ball in the box, resulted in a boot in the face for Alex. This led to a lengthy stoppage in play and considerable blood loss (although Alex was fine shortly after).
Toby Scott came on to replace Alex in goal, and put in a considerable performance, that ended up with him earning the team player of the week award.
Some great passion and effort from the team, which we can build on.