ORANGE Wanderers suffered their first men’s Premier League Hockey loss of the year, to undefeated competition leaders Lithgow Panthers in Orange on Saturday.
Wanderers were unable to stop a marauding Panthers attacking unit, who netted four goals, including a brace either side of half-time to fullback Ron Charlton, to the hosts’ one.
With scores deadlocked at nil-all, and both teams basing their attack around speed and fluency, both sides had several chances to open the scoring. In the 23rd minute, Travis Cameron did, scoring Panthers’ first.
Wanderers’ star midfielder Michael Dillon hit back four minutes later, finding the back of the net following a nifty piece of stick-work.
True to the end-to-end form of the clash, Panthers took the lead again 31 minutes in, when Charlton bagged his first from a short corner.
Behind on the scoreboard, Wanderers made it tougher for themselves when Dillon, and his brother Hayden, were both sin-binned by umpire Adam Cowden. The seemingly controversial yellow cards reduced Wanderers to nine men, and Panthers took advantage.
Charlton scored his second, and by the time the Dillon brothers returned the damage was done.
An Adam Hurford turnover gifted Trent McDonald Panthers’ fourth, and the four competition points.
“It was a very encouraging performance, the scoreline definitely didn’t reflect how close the game actually was,” Wanderers coach Andrew Reddan said.
“We’re starting to get more used to our new structure, and you could see Lithgow didn’t have much idea what was going on out there when we got it right. The talk was good all game, and even though we should have scored a couple more with the opportunities we created, taking it to Panthers is a good sign.
“They are the benchmark, and we kept up with them for most of the game.”
Reddan said his team’s transition work from attack to defence let them down.
“Working our system we go from a wide attack to narrow defence, and it’s tough,” he explained.
“I think about 40 per cent of the squad probably aren’t quite fit enough yet, but we’ll get there. There’s plenty of good signs.”
LITHGOW PANTHERS 4 (Ron Charlton 2, Travis Cameron, Trent McDonald) def ORANGE WANDERERS 1 (Michael Dillon).