On a sunny Saturday lunchtime, Bristol City Panthers welcomed ISCA Apollo to South Bristol to return the friendly in May when the Panthers ran out 4-0 winners.
Unfortunately due to a couple of injuries, ISCA only had nine players but were bolstered by Scott and Tom Wren who both came down to watch not realising they’d both be playing starring roles for the visitors! There was still a sizeable crowd of spectators who came to watch the action though, which was much appreciated!
The game started evenly, with both teams having a fair share of possession and neither side dominated, but the home side’s midfield (led by returning captain Stu and the dynamic duo of Dean and Charlie) slowly started to take more control. Some attacking play down the right for the Panthers led to Kurtis crossing the ball, which the defender handled and a penalty was awarded. Scott began his starring role in the sticks as he saved the spot kick and held the rebound before Kurtis could get to the ball.
The Panthers were revitalised despite the missed opportunity and a few minutes later, after a bit of wing play and subsequent throw-in by Joe, forced a corner; which captain Stu whipped to the near post and Charlie slid in to open the scoring.
Rather than dropping heads, ISCA upped their game and grew steadily back into it, which caused headaches for the new looking back four of Pete, RPH, Scott C and Glenn. ISCA were rewarded for this by forcing a corner on their attacking right hand side which was put across and Tom Wren scored with a bullet header to tie the game up with 10 minutes to half time. Neither side could add to the scoring before the break.
Half Time: Panthers 1 - 1 ISCA Apollo
The second half kicked off in hotter temperatures, as Mike Green replaced Glenn and Joe dropped into left back. This change saw the Panthers evolve into a more attacking threat almost immediately and both Chris M and Kurtis fires shots which the Goalkeeper had to act smartly to stop.. as well as watch a few fly clear of the crossbar!
The Panthers slowly started to make their ability shown and their midfield started to regain control. This yielded a corner on the right hand side which Mike crossed in, Dean managed to recycle the ball into the penalty box where Chris got his head to it from a few yards and finally beat Scott (who had had the better of that duel up until that point!) and the Panthers retook the lead.
Very soon after, a switch of wings saw Mike link up with Joe and force another corner on the left hand side, this one was again headed in by Chris. These two quickfire goals gave Panthers a 3 - 1 lead. With around half hour remaining the Panthers introduced Steve C, Tom Marlow and Kevin from the bench to replace Stu, Pete and Rob.
Some good passing in the midfield created a couple of shooting opportunities for the home side, but again they were left frustrated as the ISCA defenders continued to put bodies on the line and keep making good blocks; this eventually lead to a block falling to the feet of Chris who duly completed his quick fire hat trick with a smart finish through a couple of defenders which unsighted the goalkeeper and made the score line 4 - 1.
The game continued and both sides played good attacking football but neither team to add to their goal tallies, Scott continued to star for ISCA as he pulled off a wonderful save from Steve C after a delightful passing move which went from one end of the pitch - started by goalkeeper Fozzy - and included several players.
ISCA weren’t to be outdone and started to pass the ball around with confidence too. Their second goal came from a defensive mix up and was finished emphatically by the striker to make it 4 - 2.
With around 10 minutes remaining, Chris was replaced and Rob returned to the pitch. This change lead to Mike leading the line and after another wonderful passing move through the defence and midfield Dean laid a perfect cut back to Mike to roll the ball across the line to restore the three goal advantage.
Both sides pressed for an extra goal towards the end with Fozzy making a smart save and Kevin almost getting a sixth for the Panthers but good defending crowded him out. The referee brought to an end an exciting 90 minutes of well contested football with the final score of Panthers 5 - 2 ISCA.
Well done to Dean May for picking up the close-fought man of the match award! Thanks go to ISCA for making their way up to return the fixture, both Tom and Scott for helping them as well as to Paddy and our newest mascot Roo, whose appearance made every dog lover in the team coo!