Last Saturday (September 8) was an absolute nail-biter for the Gloucester Panthers hockey teams, as both the under 13 juniors side and the men's division three side battled it out for a spot in the grand final.
The juniors took to the field first against Chatham. Although they have been very evenly matched games through out the season, the Panthers have had a greater success rate. Nerves however got the better part of them this match and they started very flat. By the end of the first half, Chatham was up 2-0. After a half time talking and a slight change of field positioning, the Panthers came out firing. Before long, they were awarded a short corner which Nick Maslen converted with a solid whack. Game play remained tight as Gloucester threw everything they could at their opposition showing their true heart in never giving up. They were awarded for their tenacity when, with 20 seconds remaining, they got a short corner which they converted. This lead to overtime and a player drop-off in which both teams worked hard to convert but still no result. Further over time and player drop-offs saw play continue when, with one minute on the clock, a shot at goal by Gloucester bounced off the keepers pads but was picked up by Toreen Denyer and converted.
The men's match later that afternoon against the Sharks followed a very similar pattern in which the opposition were the first to strike only to be levelled up by Dave Keen resulting in a 1-1 draw at full time. Overtime and player drop-offs saw the score line unchanged so further overtime and player drop-offs panned out until again with around a minute left of play, a cross to Warren Beggs saw him land a solid shot into the back of the goal.
This is the first time a junior side from Gloucester has been represented in the Manning Valley competition and this is made all the more special when both Gloucester sides make the grand final to be played this coming Saturday. The juniors play at 10am while the seniors play at 3pm over at the Taree hockey fields.