Nothing to separate Panthers and Lions

GLENDALE LEAGUE, U10 PREMIERSHIP CUP – Alnwick Panthers...2 Alnwick Lions...2

SEPARATED by just one point in the recently-concluded league campaign, the two Alnwick U10 sides played out a thrilling 2-2 draw at Greensfield on Saturday.

Neither side deserved to lose after a competitive 40 minutes, during which the perfect playing surface allowed a full demonstration of both teams’ skills.

The Lions started much the stronger. Early moves from the Panthers all seemed to founder on the rock that was defender Callum Robertson with Jay Graham quick to come off his line when needed in the Lions goal.

At the other end, two early chances fell to Lions captain Will Sibson. Played in by Scott Dransfield in the third minute, Sibson drilled one shot just wide and moments later had another shot saved by Panthers keeper George Cockayne.

At this stage, the main danger for the Lions stemmed from their commitment to attack and they again had Robertson to thank for blocking a sharp shot from Panthers midfielder Leon McHale.

The Lions took the lead in the eighth minute when a Dransfield corner was headed home powerfully by Sibson, scoring with his third clear-cut chance of the game. Lions winger Joe Pickard almost added a second immediately when he found himself through on goal following a throw-in from Sibson, but Cockayne saved well with his feet.

There was nothing Cockayne could do, however, on 12 minutes when a ball was played over the top of the Panthers defence by the dynamic Sibson.

Although Cockayne was alert to the danger, rushing from his line, Pickard reached the high-bouncing ball a fraction ahead of him and at full stretch chipped over the keeper’s head into the empty net. It was an outstanding piece of skill by the Lions winger to give his side a well-deserved 2-0 lead.

The goal roused the Panthers, however, and within two minutes they found a way back into the game somewhat fortuitously after Lions defender Reece Gaines and keeper Jay Graham both came to meet a harmless ball into the Lions’ penalty area, the ball deflecting off Gaines and beyond the helpless Graham.

This inspired the Panthers to their best spell of the game so far. Joe Threlfall, always willing to take the opposition players on, took the ball up in his own half before driving forward powerfully, evading two tackles before unleashing a tremendous shot that crashed back off the crossbar.

The half-time break allowed the Lions to regroup and they came out for the second half with renewed purpose.

Raphael McCall came close to extending the Lions lead when he fired a rasping drive from distance that Cockayne did well to tip over the bar.

McCall took the resulting corner, firing it dangerously and at speed into the box without anyone being able to get on the end of it.

The Panthers, too, were looking dangerous. Threlfall fired just wide with a free-kick after 27 minutes, and his side equalised two minutes after. McHale carried the ball wide down the right and into a position where the immediate threat of a goal seemed to have gone.

However, when he unleashed a cross/shot into the box, all Graham could do as he came to gather it was to palm it into the roof of the net.

With 10 minutes remaining, both sides went for the win. A mazy run from Threlfall ended with him shooting narrowly wide, while man-of-the-match Sibson had another great chance for the Lions. In the closing moments, Graham reacted quickly in the Lions’ goal to deny Threlfall after he was played through by Matteo Kemp.

Alnwick Lions: Jay Graham, Reece Gaines, Raphael McCall, Jake Lawson, Thomas Forster, Jack Clements, Callum Robertson, Scott Dransfield, Will Sibson, James Chrisp.

Alnwick Panthers: George Cockayne, Ben Cooper, Elliot Wass, Matteo Kemp, Enver Ercedogan, Joe Aynsley, Joe Threlfall, Leon McHale.