Panthers back to best
SUPPORTERS and fans of the Pottsville Panthers are licking their lips at the prospect of a return to Premier League, with many suggesting they're witnessing the club's best football in years.
It's a welcome change for the tenacious cheer squad who endured the trials and hardships of relegation in 2008 before observing the remarkable rejuvenation of their troops.
Under the guidance of captain-coach David Lonie, the Panthers have mustered seven wins in their opening eight Football Far North Coast encounters, banging home a whopping 36 goals while conceding just one goal a game to be far and away the most dominant force in First Division.
The only hiccup was a 2-1 humbling away to Goonellabah a fortnight ago but that result was righted on Saturday when the two teams faced off again.
Pottsville produced their most convincing performance to date and the result was an 8-0 demolition in front of an appreciative Koala Beach crowd.
“That game was worth watching and on that performance we are capable of taking on any Premier League side,” one delighted fan said.
“I'm excited; they played bloody good soccer. In fact it was by far the best game I've seen them play in at least three years.
“They were winning before but weren't as structured and didn't look as professional as they did this week so credit to them and the coach for continuing to develop.”
With revenge on their minds Saturday, the Panthers came out of the sheds firing and were clinical in the execution of their game plan, racing out to 3-0 by the break.
A hat-trick to Mark Lonie, a double to Adam Rogers and contributions from Josh Boags, Mike Kollovos and Carl Allen, as well as the stand-out defensive efforts of Jarrod Lee ensured Pottsville set a stern precedent on retribution.
“We wanted to assert ourselves and show them exactly the team that we are,” coach Lonie said.
“The boys dug deep and played to their potential so I was really proud of their efforts.
“We held our shape all over the field, distributed well and supported the man with the ball. We played good soccer and ran the game how we wanted to.
“Last time was just one of those things; we needed an awakening, we got one, we know we can't take teams for granted, and we're a lot better off for it.”
The result extends Pottsville's lead atop the ladder to four points while Burringbar moved into second sport with a solid 2-0 triumph over local rivals Uki at the Uki Sports Ground on Saturday.
Two first-half goals was all it took for the First Division's big improvers to notch up their fifth win of the season.
Also on Saturday, Rovers beat Dunoon 3-0 while the other game was postponed.