Wyrley Panthers v Sporting Khalsa
The boys needed to better the results of Tipton to end the league phase in the top four to enable progression through to the semi-finals next week. As Hamstead Diamonds had won every game in the league it appeared at the beginning of the day it was going to be an uphill task.
The boys started the match extremely sloppily in defence and Khalsa had chances on the break. Despite their defensive frailties, the Panthers took the lead through Ashton ‘Goals’ Cooper.
However, the Khalsa attack picked up on the problems that the Panthers were experiencing at the back and broke away to score with a clinical finish.
The boys began the second half in a more structured fashion and began to press their opponents and created more chances. However, Khalsa were resolute at the back and chances came and went and it appeared it was going to be another one of those days where despite creating numerous chances the boys were going to rue the missed opportunities.
However, late on in the game their perseverance paid off with another poacher’s goal from Louis ‘the Poacher’ Beesley, who always seems to be in the right position at the right time to provide the Panthers with the result they need.
Wyrley Panthers v Hamstead Diamonds
So it all came down to the final game!
The boys were aware that Tipton had lost to Hamstead earlier in the day and therefore the boys simply needed to avoid defeat and they would be through to the semi-finals at the expense of Tipton.
Within minutes tragedy struck, a speculative shot from a Hamstead player got caught up in the wind and flew out of Lewis ‘the Cat’ Rochelle’s reach and ended up in the back of the net. The boys were devastated, not to mention the management team, who felt over the course of the league season the boys were fully deserving of their place in the semi-finals.
The boys did not let their heads drop and battled their way back into the game and were continuously on the front foot, with the tenacious battling of central midfielder Josh Reynolds epitomising the team’s grit and endeavour. Man of the Match from the first game, Louis ‘the Poacher’ Beesley worked his socks off for the team throughout the game and was unlucky not to score when, with the keeper beaten, he aimed at the empty net only for a Hampstead defender to appear out of nowhere to block his attempt.
Next up to be thwarted in his attempt to score was Ben ‘Whizza’ Herrington who hit a trademark long-range effort only to see the ball rebound down off the bar and to be cleared by a defender.
Ashton ‘Goals’ Cooper worked tirelessly up front but even he could not provide a finish to grace the game with a deserving goal.
With only a couple of minutes left on the clock, with it looking like the Panthers were going to crash out of the competition, the management made their final change, with Josh ‘Smasher’ Mason entering the field with the words ‘get me a goal’ ringing in his ears from Ian Whitehouse!
With one and a half minutes left on the clock, Ben ‘Tank’ Maginness picked up the ball in midfield and ran at the defence before slipping the ball into Ashton ‘Goals’ Cooper who let fly with a right-footed effort, the keeper saved the initial shot and the ball rolled out of his grasp towards the penalty spot – could it be in the last minute to send the Panthers through to the semis – Josh ‘Smasher’ Mason strode towards the ball and tucked it calmly into the top right-hand corner to the delight of the crowd, his team mates and the delirious management team. Smasher was swamped by his team mates and the boys celebrated wildly like a band of brothers!
The boys did not look like conceding in the final few seconds as the defence of George Whitehouse and Sam ‘Scotty’ Scott had looked impregnable throughout.
The final whistle blew and the boys had made it into the next stages and the management team could not be prouder of their performance and in fact they had been unlucky not to win this game against superb and skilful opposition who try to play the game properly. A proud day for all connected with the team.
Man of the Match Smasher had only been on the pitch minutes but was provided with the award because of the importance of his goal.