Panthers finished off their GFSN league campaign with a strong 7-2 win at home against Soho FC.
In the pre-match team talk, gaffer Kevin encouraged the Panthers to go on the attack, and attack they did, with goals flowing early in the first half. The deadlock was broken quickly when Dean May put Tom Wren through on goal, and Wren calmly slotted the shot home to put the Panthers 1-0 up. That lead was swiftly consolidated by some more great joined-up play between the midfield and the strikers, with Steve and Sammy linking up well to allow Sammy to score against her former club. The Panthers had further chances when Charlie shot from just outside the box, but the ball narrowly sailed over the bar. Sammy would have more luck when she got through on goal and chipped the ball over the keeper. Unfortunately in the exchange, the Soho keeper picked up an injury and had to be substituted.
The Panthers early lead belied Soho's own attacking spirit. Soho were able to play the ball out well and the defensive line of Rob, Jonathan, Tom Marlow and Ross had to keep their wits abut them to quell the attack. However, Soho took their opportunity to fight back into the match after winning a corner. The Panthers failed to clear the ball out of the area, and Soho capitalised with a shot that just evaded keeper Josh. Conceding that goal sharpened the Panthers' resolve however, and the home team pushed forward before the break. Dean's patient efforts to set up others to get on the scoresheet were rewarded when he was able to get a shot on target that put the Panthers 4-1 up going into half time.
The second half saw some changes as Pete came on for Rob Alsop, and Carl came on for Steve. The Panthers showed early attacking spirit, as Pete pushed the ball forward for a close call from Tom Wren, who was clearly looking for more appearances on the score sheet. Soho clearly had the same idea, however, and pushed forward early. Their persistence was rewarded by scooping up a goal kick, and lobbing Josh to slip the ball just under the bar.
That inspired the Panthers to turn up the intensity, and Tom Wren soon saw his ambition to return to the scoresheet fulfilled, as he slotted home his second of the match to take the Panthers 5-2 up. He would soon follow that in style from a free kick on the edge of Soho's area. Spotting a gap between the wall and the post, he deftly chipped the ball over the wall and into the top right corner. His hat-trick deservedly won him the Player of the Match award.
Before the game was put to bed, the Panthers sustained their own injury blow after Josh went down from a goal kick with a leg injury. That forced a final set of changes as, Charlie went in goal, and Glenn came on at leftback. Sammie would also be subbed off for the final moments of the game, but before she went, she completed her own hat trick to help the Panthers to a 7-2 victory.
Another great game played in good spirit against friendly opponents was a fitting end to the Panthers' GFSN league campaign. The Panthers will finish their division second, a point behind league leaders Yorkshire Terriers FC. The championship playoffs now await, but before then, we have our fantastic fundraiser on Friday 21 February, and our GFSN semi-final match against Village Manchester FC on Saturday 29 February.