Le Tocq’s late strike earns Puffins hard-fought point

IT WAS the right result in the end, but for so much of the second half on Saturday it looked as if it was going to be a frustrating afternoon for Puffins.

Becky McAllister scores one of her two goals for Panthers against Puffins. (Picture by Martin Gray, www.guernseysportphotography.com, 28887799)
Becky McAllister scores one of her two goals for Panthers against Puffins. (Picture by Martin Gray, www.guernseysportphotography.com, 28887799)

Having fallen two goals down in the opening quarter-of-an-hour as Panthers and Island forward Becky McAllister added a brace to her season’s tally, the yellows had it all to do against a confident side who came into the game on the back of successive wins.

But crucially they halved the deficit on the stroke of half-time and although early second-half pressure did not reap any rewards, their persistence eventually paid off thanks to a superbly-taken equaliser from Georgie Le Tocq three minutes from time.

While they deserved a point, Puffins still required their Guernsey goalkeeper Emma Atkinson to be at her alert best to quell a late threat right at the death to secure the 2-2 draw.

However, Atkinson could do little about either of the two goals that put Panthers in the driving seat in the first 13min.

McAllister, who is part of a strong spine to the Panthers team along with captain Caryn Rieger and Island centre-back Lucy Slimm, made the first goal-scoring opportunity of the game count in the fourth minute as she managed to force the ball over the line in a scramble close to goal following Becky Hambleton’s ball into the D from the left.

On a rare foray forward in the opening 10 minutes, Puffins won the first short corner of the game and Kelley Cameron’s shot required Hannah Eulenkamp to make a save, but the pressure was coming largely at the other end and soon the lead was doubled.

Good work from Rieger won Panthers their first short on 12min. and in the process of trying to score from the follow-up to McAllister’s initial shot, a Puffins foot got in the way – penalty stroke.

McAllister sent Atkinson the wrong way from the spot and Panthers were buoyant.

Atkinson then prevented it quickly becoming three as she saved from Hambleton’s first-time shot.

However, having created little in the first quarter of the game, Puffins moved up a couple of gears with Cameron and Lucy Waldrom embarking on weaving runs that helped get them on the front foot.

A couple of short-corner chances came and went as Rieger did her job as a runner excellently to close down Laura Webber before she could get her shots away. Then Ellie Knowelden was given the chance at another short and drew a save out of Eulenkamp.

At the third time of asking for Webber, though, she got Puffins the goal they desperately needed just before the break as her shot managed to sneak through Eulenkamp.

Puffins started the second half on the front foot, too, but Panthers managed to weather that storm and, midway through the half, they created a couple of chances of their own.

Atkinson made a good save to deny McAllister a hat-trick from the first of those before the goalkeeper combined with Cameron to somehow keep the ball out as Robyn Palfrey tried to score from close range.

The game was becoming stretched and Rieger showed her passing range with a couple of terrific long balls to start counter-attacks that kept Puffins honest, but Webber’s firm strike that flashed across the face of goal for Puffins was the closest either side came to scoring before Le Tocq’s late intervention.

The goal came from Knowelden’s pass into the youngster at the far post, but she still had plenty to do and she did it smartly with good control before exploiting a tiny gap to equalise.

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