SOUTHS was made to pay for its errors on Saturday as Lithgow Panthers came from behind to post an 8-2 win in their men’s Premier League Hockey match.
Meeting in Lithgow for the first time since Panthers downed Souths in the 2016 grand final, the two blues were keen to impress against the defending premiers.
The Bathurst side made a good start as Andrew Cranston, who impressed after being switched from defence to an unfamiliar midfield position, scored the first goal of the match.
However, some five minutes out from the break Panthers scored twice in quick succession to take the lead.
Both goals came on the back of defensive errors from Souths and gave Panthers a 2-1 lead at half-time.
“The first half was a good half, yeah we made some bad blues at the end of the half, but it was solid,” Souths coach Ray Winwood-Smith said.
“We were in the game for the first 25 minutes, we were neck and neck, but two defensive errors cost us.”
Both sides scored early in the second half, Cranston again finding the mark for Souths in the 40th minute, and at 3-2 it shaped as a tight battle for the competition points.
But Panthers scored two goals in quick succession to push the lead out to three, and from there Souths did not recover.
“We lost composure, we tried to push too hard too quickly, and they capitalised on our mistakes,” Winwood-Smith said.
“In the second half we lost structure and composure. There were patches where we played extremely well and put them under pressure, but they just capitalised on our poor defensive errors.
“When you give Panthers space, they don’t miss. Once you gave Panthers a bit of a sniff, you can’t stop them. It was very disappointing.”
Winwood-Smith said the Panthers side was a deserved winner – the victory Lithgow’s second of the season - while he nominated Cranston and Adam Campbell as the best players in his below strength line up.
“We had Keiran Gentles out today, we had Nathan Bourke out, we had Bradley Brown out – we had a number of solid players that when they come back into the squad, will make a difference,” the coach said.
“No excuses, but we had some people who didn’t play because of injury and different reasons and we had to shuffle the team around a fair bit to compensate and that actually disrupted the team. We had people in positions they had never played before.
“But that last 20 minutes of the second half they pushed past us and played well and they deserved the win at the end of the day.”