New Norfolk’s thrilling penalty shootout win

THE Panther men have had an increasingly positive start to their season in a newish league, with a loss, a draw and three wins in the five rounds played so far.

Picturesque is the only world to describe the conditions at Tynwald Park last Sunday (April 30). With a quarter final on the line, the crowd began to gather as the New Norfolk Panthers Senior Men’s team were taking on the Barnestoneworth Golden Gordons.

The whistle blew to signal the start of a 90 minute battle and both sides came out with the same mindset: win. For the first 25 minutes neither team could be separated on the scoresheet until some gutsy Barnestoneworth plays rewarded them with a goal. Five minutes later they were rewarded again as they took the lead 2-0.

The Panthers were looking depleted and frustration was clearly evident on their faces. The objective was to make it to half-time without Barnestoneworth increasing its advantage, but a moment of brilliance saw the ever-reliable Paul Cairns score in the last minute of the first half.

With the scores at 2-1, a change in strategy was clearly needed if the Panthers were to have any chance of winning. A formation change and some composure was all that was needed in the second half as the maestro Christopher Driver found New Norfolk’s second goal, to level the scores at 2-2.

ABOVE: The reliable Paul Cairns going up for a header.
TOP PHOTO: The New Norfolk team’s jubilation at winning the penalty shootout and the game.

With the potential for silverware on the line, both teams continued to battle and as this was a cup game, if neither team could be separated at the end of 90 minutes a penalty shootout would ensue. At the 85th minute and with penalties looking probable, a decision was made to substitute outfield player and youngest member of the team, Jed Plunkett-Smith, into the goalkeeper position. Sure enough the game ended 2-2, meaning it was penalty time.

Each team now had five kicks from the penalty spot to win the match. If they still could not be separated, sudden death kicks would follow and the rest of the team would have to take a kick until one side faltered. The Panthers won the toss and elected to kick first. Up stepped Christopher Driver and he scored. Barnestoneworth fire back and it was 1-1. Jack Rose was next, with a cool finish. Barnestoneworth scored again, 2-2.

James Hamilton missed for New Norfolk and hearts began to race. Barnestoneworth had the opportunity to win the penalty shootout, but Jed Plunkett-Smith saved in heroic fashion and the whole of Tynwald Park cheered in glee. Next up was Martin Cairns, clinical as always, taking the score to 3-2 in New Norfolk’s favour.

Barnestoneworth got the next penalty and it was 3-3. Panthers captain/coach Sam Plunkett was the last in the local lineup to take a penalty, and he calmly made it 4-3. The equation was simple, if Barnestoneworth missed, New Norfolk was the victor, but if they scored the penalties would go to sudden death. Magic occurred however, as Jed Plunkett-Smith saved Barnestoneworth’s last penalty and wrote the fairytale ending.

New Norfolk emerged as 4-3 victors of the penalty shootout and won the game. The men’s next game is against Clarence Zebras at Wentworth Park at 2pm this Sunday.

JAKEB RHODES

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