Experienced Panthers conquer young Bears
North Coast Soccer
ON Saturday afternoon at Barnier Park, the undefeated Tucabia Bears and the Crown Hotel Westlawn Panthers fought it out for the North Coast Football third division north grand final title.
The Bears had youth and speed on their side, but the Panthers had the experience part wrapped up with some players more than double the age of the Bears oldest.
It was a great day for football, the sun was shining but not too hot and the field was in superb condition after being closed the previous weekend due to the weather.
An excellent crowd of about 200 in good spirits were in attendance after the junior grand final titles had been settled earlier that day.
The opening 15 minutes was a tight and fast battle with the football moving quickly to both ends of the park.
About 15 minutes in the Panthers opened the scoring when Scott Butcher slipped a ball through to Pete Taylor who was unmarked in the box and made no mistake, slipping the ball past the keeper for a 1-0 lead to Westlawn.
Both sides had their chances throughout the rest of the first half, but the defensive lines held fast.
Tucabia came out revived at the start of the second half with an opening blitz, but were held out until they had a counter-attacking opportunity which caught the Westlawn defence up too far.
Despite a scrambling defensive effort from the Panthers, Brody Albiston was able to kick the ball across goal into the far corner of the net to bring the scores level with most of the second half still to play.
Westlawn were able to go one goal up again soon after however when Scott Butcher got a nice ball through to Mitch Ware who chipped the keeper from the edge of the box out wide and it went into the far side of the goal overseen by Peter Allen who was there to make sure of it for a 2-1 lead.
Both sides had chances from there but the Panthers held on well for a deserved grand final win.
Westlawn Panthers coach John Pitkin praised his team's effort and their big finish to the season throughout the finals series.
He selected David Groth as his player of the match with his good runs and solid defence up the left flank.
Keeper Chris Lawson was also a standout for the Panthers, rarely having to dive as he was positioning himself well throughout.
The referees did their job well and had no undue influence on the outcome of the game while Tucabia's captain/coach, Daniel Gavin, had his usual stand out game for the Bears, always looking dangerous.
As minor premiers, the Tucabia Bears get to take on Corindi Red Rock Breakers in the Zone finals at Rushforth Park next Saturday at 1.30pm.