Panthers pounce to set up final showdown


Alnwick Panthers...3 Rothbury...2

THE Panthers met Rothbury in the final league match of the U10 Premiership Cup on Saturday (May 14) knowing that an emphatic win would guarantee second place and another showdown with the Longhoughton Legends in this weekend’s final.

Panthers coach Paul Yeadon reverted to the formation which had served the team so well throughout the season and the opening exchanges indicated his team had a tough match ahead.

Elliott Wass and Ben Cooper started confidently in the Panthers’ defence against the speedy Rothbury counter-attacks.

The match was goalless after an even opening 10 minutes, Panthers’ Liam Cravagan then set up an attack for his team with a headed flick on to Joe Threlfall on the left. The winger controlled the ball before lashing a fierce shot from distance which the Rothbury keeper did well to tip over. From the resulting corner Cooper’s shot was blocked by the Rothbury defence.

The Panthers were gradually getting into their stride with long shots from Joe Aynsley and Threlfall.

The deadlock was finally broken when substitute Leon McHale curled a great shot into the right corner of the net with his first kick of the match (1-0).

Rothbury responded immediately with long balls forward that were met by great defensive headers from Wass.

Another promising attack was thwarted by a last-ditch tackle from Threlfall, who tracked back to preserve Panthers’ lead.

Alnwick made their second substitution of the half with Owen Johnson coming on. The fresh legs again paid dividends with Johnson meeting McHale’s cross to beat the Rothbury keeper and give the Panthers a two-goal lead at half-time (2-0).

The Rothbury players started the second half confidently, winning corners after good defending by Matteo Kemp and Cravagan.

The Panthers momentarily relieved the pressure with a quick break from Threlfall, who put Ember Ercedogan through. The forward’s goal-bound snapshot was well saved by the keeper.

With the wind at their back, Rothbury continued to threaten with a great curling free-kick that went narrowly wide of the right post.

The away team got the goal their play deserved with a finish that gave George Cockayne in the Alnwick goal no chance (2-1).

The next goal was always going to be crucial and it was the Panthers who pounced when Cooper released McHale on the right. The midfielder threaded a ball through to Aynsley who bundled it into the back of the net (3-1).

Rothbury battled back well as they had all game, forcing the Alnwick defensive trio of Wass, Cooper and Cravagan to make important blocks.

And they pulled a goal back in the last minute of the game with fast footwork from their striker and a cool finish into the left corner (3-2).

The final whistle blew soon after to the relief of the Panthers, who edged a great game.

The Legends and Panthers, the top two teams in the Glendale League U10 season, will now meet in the final of the Premiership Cup.

With one victory to each team in their previous matches this season, it should be a fantastic finale.

Alnwick Panthers: George Cockayne, Ben Cooper, Elliott Wass, Owen Johnson, Matteo Kemp, Leon McHale, Liam Cravagan, Joe Aynsley, Joe Threlfall, Ember Ercedogan.