Hillsborough Pumas got their season off to a flying start with a 3-2 home win against newly promoted Ecclesfield Eagles.
Pumas started the game well & in the early stages dominated the game without causing too many problems to the opposition.
The breakthrough did however come. After around 25 minutes when the ball was worked down the right hand side by Joe Keighley & Jake Slaughter. Slaughter whipped in a curling cross to the back post which was met by an unbelievable first touch & smashed into the net by Matt Cowen.
Another few chances came the Pumas way who had chances to extend the lead by 2 or 3 before the end of the half but then Ecclesfield got back into the game against the run of play.
A long ball forward by Ecclesfield wasn’t dealt with at the back post and some confusion resulted in the Ecclesfield forward tapping into an empty goal.
The goal really picked up Ecclesfield’s performance after half time who really grew into the game. Ecclesfield dominated for large periods of the second half an finally went in front when a chipped ball from the full back resulted in a player bearing down 1v1 with goalkeeper Corey Hawksworth, who had commanded his area well in the first half. The forward cut the ball back & although a last ditch attempt by Ben Cawthorne almost kept it out, it did creep over the line. In fairness it was deserved.
The goal seemed to drain Pumas at that stage and it didn’t really look like there was a way back into the game with some growing frustrated.
It looked at one stage that luck wasn’t on our side either with last seasons top scorer Matt Cowen hitting the post both in open play & direct from a well struck free kick.
The Pumas also had injury troubles going into the last 10. With Evan Watson & Brad hardy both taken off injured for the impressive Calum Turner & Dan Currie. Ben Cawthorne went down with an arm injury. With all subs used up Ben insisted on returning to the pitch and played on through the pain barrier. Top level commitment from a top man.
Then came the late drama, with 5 minutes to go the equaliser did come. A ball into the feet of Matt Cowen by Joe Keighley saw Cowen roll his man on the edge of the box before firing a left foot strike in off the under side of the cross bar, a really stunning finish.
Then in the last couple of minutes of the game Dan Currie broke free down the left after a ball forward by Callum Rodgers. Currie cut the ball back to Joe Keighley who bundled the ball over the line for a late Pumas winner.
Pumas shut out the last couple of minutes injury time to record their first win of the season.
Credit must go to Ecclesfield who came to play football & on the day probably deserved more.
Pumas will be disappointed with their overall performance but with 8 players unavailable for selection a win is a win.