It was a thrilling finish in the last minute of extra time when the Gore Main Pumas beat the St Mary’s Panthers 2-1 in the Eastern Southland 10th grade football final at Hyde Park on Saturday.
Both teams played well throughout the match and moved the ball down the field with ease.
The Panthers scored a wonderful goal through Josh Thompson (9), and the Pumas followed suit with a goal through Riley Wilson (10).
As the game came to a close, the score was level at one apiece, making for an exciting finish.
The game went into extra time – two five-minute periods..
After scoring earlier in the game, Pumas player Riley attacked the ball hard, stealing it off a Panthers player and dribbling it towards the goal.
Riley lined up the ball perfectly, kicked with flair and scored the winning point to secure top honours for his team.
The Pumas supporters cheered loudly, and fellow team members ran at Riley, picking him up off the ground to celebrate the win.
Pumas co-coaches Mike Johnston and Corey Reed said the team had done exactly what was asked of them on the day.
“The boys stuck to the game plan, they stuck as a team, the way they have all season, and listened to what was needed of them,” Johnston said.
It was the second week in a row the Pumas had won by a “golden goal” in extra time.
“It’s been great for the boys – so much fun,” he said.
Reed said the team had come right when it mattered the most.
“It was a very poor start to the season. This [Panthers] team beat us like 10-1 the first time we played them, so it’s been a big turnaround.”
The Pumas players were a “great bunch” and had been a pleasure to coach all season, Reed said.
“There has been no niggle in the team whatsoever – fantastic wee team and individuals.”
Panthers coach Bruce Young said he was very proud of his team’s effort.
“I thought we played very well. It came down right to the last minute of extra time so we were really in the game.
“We had our opportunities but we just couldn’t connect them all together,” he said.
The Panthers had gone through the round robin stages undefeated.
Young said the competition had been great.
“It’s been a pretty successful season. This competition has been very competitive and we’ve seen some really good matches.”