The Bristol City Panthers got 2019 off to a winning start with a 4-3 victory in a friendly against local rivals Trowbridge Tigers.
The first half started nervily, with both teams holding the ball well in midfield and with the Tigers getting some good early shots in. Goalkeeper Dan kept the Tigers at bay, and the back four of Rob, Ross, Jonathan and Basham worked well to keep the attackers frustrated. The Panthers settled in to the game and around the 20 minute mark managed to break the deadlock thanks to a perfectly-placed Chris Miles strike.
After the restart, the Panthers midfielders of Dean, Charlie and Stu worked hard to keep the ball out of the clutches of the home side, and wingers Vince and Mike Green had some great runs and created some promising chances. But against the run of play, Tigers strung together some strong passes, and a cross into the box yielded an unfortunate own goal as Rob deflected the ball into the Panthers net.
The visitors kept their heads up, however, and turned the intensity up a notch, and Chris soon sent the Panthers back ahead. Just before the half time whistle, Mike Green slotted home a third goal - though not without controversy! The linesman flagged the goal offside but after protestations, the referee overturned the decision and the goal was allowed to stand.
The second half saw some changes as Charlie went in goal and Dan moved out to the left wing. Pete, Rob Alsop and Glenn took their turn in the defensive line with Steve and Luke boosting our presence in midfield and on the wing. Substitute Scott also made an immediate impact, hammering home the Panthers' fourth goal of the match. His goal and commanding performance in midfield in the rest of the half netted him the Man of the Match award.
The opposition certainly didn't let the Panthers have things all their way, however, as they were able to exploit the turnover in the Panthers' team and pull two goals back. Subs Alex K, Chris Robinson and Phil, however, kept the Panthers' looking competitive up front, while the defence coalesced to deny the Tigers any more opportunities.
As the final whistle blew, the Panthers celebrated their first win of 2019. The Tigers put up a great fight and battled hard right to the end.
There's little rest for the Panthers squad, however - next Saturday they travel to take on East End Phoenix in the first GFSN league clash of 2019!