"Two years ago, I played in the Panthers team that lost 13-0 to the Yorkshire Terriers. Today we showed the ability and the heart to erase that defeat and show we are a match for the best."
Pete - Vice Chair
Yesterday, the Panthers travelled up to Huddersfield for a league match against Yorkshire Terriers in a match that may well decide the division for the GFSN league. They came away with a vital point, and in doing so, ended the Terriers' 18-month GFSN league winning streak. Fired up by a visit from City legend Scotty Murray on training on Thursday, the team overturned a 2-0 deficit to score 3 goals in the second half and ensure the Panthers keep their title hopes alive.
The Panthers started strong in the first half, pushing the ball forward from midfield. Dean, Steve and Charlie were all strong in the air and pressured the Terriers for possession. Pushing the ball out to the wings to Dan and Tom provided some strong early chances with Chris a constant pressure at the top. When the Terriers broke, the defence of Ross, Tom and Scott communicated well with goalkeeper Fozzy to cut off their attacks.
The half was going well for the Panthers, but it was the home team that would score first blood with a cutting run allowing their striker to get through on goal. Despite a valiant attempt at a save from Fozzy, the ball bounced over the line, giving the Terriers the 1-0 advantage. The Panthers carried on fighting on, and again the midfield and wings were strong on the ball, with Tom, Scott and Ross doing their part to feed the ball up from defence through to midfield. It looked like the Panthers may well equalise, after earning some corners through their offensive play, but their chances couldn't quite hit the target - coupled with some good saves from the Yorkshire keeper. Sadly, however, Yorkshire would get the chance to double their league, after a free kick on the edge of the area was placed perfectly into the top corner of the Panthers goal - despite Fozzy's best efforts to get there to thwart the shot.
In the second half, gaffer Kevin made the important decision to chase the game, changing the formation to a 4-4-2 to give the Panthers some more firepower up top, and bringing Pete on in defence, and Sammy and Josh on upfront and midfield respectively. Pete played a solid game at left-back, providing some timely clearances and challenges against the Terriers' attackers, and Josh and Sammy helped drive the ball forward again. The Panthers' spirit and perseverence paid off, as Dean May got through on goal and struck goal to put the Panthers back in the match. Shortly afterwards, Dean doubled his tally to draw things level, cutting in a shot across goal that inched past the keeper and into the net.
The Panthers had tied things up, but the game still had more drama and controversy in store, as the Terriers capitalised on a disputed corner decision to go 3-2 up. With time ticking down, the Panthers refused to give up, and at the other end of the pitch, Tom Marlow's head once again saved the day, as he headed the ball into the net, and secured the Panthers a hard-fought 3-3 draw.
That draw puts the Panthers 3 points behind the Terriers at the top of the table - but with a goal in hand and a better goal difference. All to play for! In the meantime, tribute must be paid firstly to the team for not giving up and chasing the game for everything they could get. Secondly to Sammy who made her impressive 11 a side debut for the club. And last but not least, for Dean, who deservedly won the Player of the Match vote!
As Vice Chair Pete said, the game also symbolised just how far the Panthers have developed since the last time we played Yorkshire 2 years ago. There we conceded 13 goals, and two players left with broken bones. Thanks are also due to the players, management, coaches and long-suffering committee members who have helped grow the Panthers into one of the most successful LGBT teams in the country.