The Panthers travelled to Westbury for their GFSN Cup preliminary round draw against Trowbridge Tigers. After a goal-filled second half, the Panthers came back from behind to win 3-2 and secure their place in the next round of the competition.
The Wiltshire drizzle cleared after the visitors' arrival, and the game got under way with the Panthers starting off strong. The midfield got the best of a lot of challenges, and the Panthers would find most of their luck down the left wing with good link up play between Tom Wren, Dean and Chris Miles. Chris' long throws in particular created a few early chances which Panthers heads couldn't convert: Mike sent a header over the bar; Wren hit the cross bar with a header, and Mike hit the post with yet another header.
Tigers held strong through the period of sustained attack by the panthers. A few surges forward were stopped in their tracks by the Panthers defense of Tom Marlow, Ross, Jonathan and Joe. Particular plaudits go to Scott who was indefatigable in defensive midfield - his efforts earned him the man of the match award! The remainder of the first evenly contested and went into the break at 0-0.
Steve Campbell came on for Jonathan to start the second half, and the Tigers started strong, though the Panthers did well to stop the attacks and had a few surges forward of their own. The stalemate was broken, however, when the Tigers drew a free kick in the Panthers half. A ball lobbed through painstakingly bounced millimeters over one of the defender's head and the home team's striker got onto the end of the pass to put the Tigers 1-0 up.
The confidence boost would see the Tigers push forward and a solo Tiger effort of a run down the left wing to cut inside and shoot from 25 yards gave the Panthers a 2-0 deficit to overcome away from home.
Panthers gaffer Kevin shifted formation to pack the midfield and move to a 3-5-2 formation, which was successful in quelling the Tigers' attacks and getting the Panthers pushing forward. The change in strategy worked as, with 20 minutes remaining, the referee awarded a penalty to the Panthers after Chris was felled in the box. Mike stepped up and calmly slotted the ball into the bottom right corner to make it 2-1.
This boosted the Panthers who fought tooth and nail to get back in the game. They succeeded through counter attack started by Charlie, who won the ball in midfield and made a run forward. Charlie played a well-weighted through ball through a gap in the Tigers' central defence, and Mike cut across the back of the defender and a strike from his left foot found the bottom right corner to level the scores.
Neither side wanted this decided by penalties, and with the clock running down both teams tried to break the deadlock. Rob Parry-Hall came on for Joe, and the Panthers managed to dispossess the Tigers coming forward, forcing the Tigers defence to put the ball out for a corner to quell the counter-attack. Mike swung the ball into box where Marlow was coiled to strike. He delivered, and headed the ball with authority into the back of the net, putting the Panthers ahead.
With five minutes left on the clock the Panthers knuckled down, determined to see the game out.
With some grit and determination the Panthers were able to see out the match to a well deserved victory. That sets up a clash with our good friends the Leftfooters in late November in the next round!