ORANGE Wanderers have withstood a bruising Lithgow Panthers barrage to turn what could have been a men's Premier League Hockey mauling into a modest 4-0 defeat on Saturday.
Making the arduous trip east to tackle the Panthers in Lithgow, the Wanderers defended gallantly for virtually the entire contest as the men's PLH heavyweights turned in a polished attacking performance to race to a 3-0 lead after 35 minutes.
But just one goal made its way past the gloves of Orange keeper Darryl Kennewell in the final term, giving Wanderers coach Beth Shea plenty to smile about.
"They came out hard, we knew they would after losing a couple of games," Shea said, Panthers losing their last game 8-5 to competition leaders Bathurst St Pat's.
"The boys played as tough as I've seen them throughout the entire year. Darryl played really well, he saved us.
"It was a great game played in good spirit."
An ever-developing proposition in 2014, Wanderers have drawn on a number of young players this season to help transition the team's generation next.
The likes of Gerry Shea, Adam Skelton, Louis Shea and Caiden Reddan have each held their own.
Usually a theory that works on the basis on one young gun appearing on the field at a time, on Saturday Shea and co-coach Andrew Reddan used all five of their youngsters at the same time with each handling the pressure with aplomb.
"We're looking towards building for the future," Shea enthused. "We've got a large squad this season and with our young guys we've worked on giving them each game time so we could qualify them should we need them come semi-finals time.
"In Lithgow we had a few away with injury and other commitments and to see these young guys help out like they've done, it's great to see.
"There's plenty of positive signs for the future."
After 12 rounds of the 2014 season, the men's PLH title appears a race in two following further big wins to both Panthers and St Pat's.
St Pat's defeated Lithgow Zig Zag 11-2.