Panthers complete the double

Darley Panthers u11s 3

Chesterfield Town 1

Last week the Panthers swept away Kirkby 6-1 to avenge an earlier league defeat and keep things tight at the top of the table.

High flying Chesterfield were next to visit the Whitworth, hoping to reverse the 9-1 thumping the Panthers dished out last time the teams met in October.

On current form, the Darley lads would have to produce a top-drawer performance as the Town had only lost once since their last meeting, and with defensive rock Ben Bayes on holiday, the team had to be shuffled to try and keep things tight.

Captain Charlie Knowles was the one to move back to centre half and what a captain’s display it was, earning him the Man of the Match accolade.

He even won the toss to make the visitors face the early morning sun on this first Sunday of April. With both teams set up the same, good old fashioned wing play made this a fast, open game that had veteran local footie celebrity Pete Vardy purring on the touch line.

Darley’s passing created the first chances and a five-man move opened up the Town defence to break the deadlock. Knowles won the ball for Kyle Charlton to move it on to Taylor. His intelligent pass inside found Healy, who looked up to cross into the area, where Jack Rose finished first time into the roof of the net.

As the half progressed, Darley created chances at will but every time the final shot failed to find the target. They had enough opportunities to end the game before the break, but as one wise sage behind the gaffer said, it could all go a bit Pete Tong (wrong).

And right on half time it did as the speedy Chessie winger found room to cross, with the defence back pedaling a scramble in the six yard box brought the scores level. A pep talk and cool drink was needed.

The second half was all Darley’s but again the lads could not find the right finish. James Allwoood raided constantly down the right and, with Bradley Crarer pushing on from left full back, the lads started to tick.

Scott Taylor, in the centre of midfield, sprayed the ball around and the Panthers scored two quick goals to make it three. Ciaran Healy bagged both with first Rose then Alex Dunsby providing the final pass. Will Calow’s energetic play set the tempo for the team and Sam Elliott and Teal Rhodes stayed strong at the back with keeper Jack Coates assured as ever. Special praise too for Max Webber who, though he has not played much this season, came on and slotted in perfectly.

Darley never looked like surrendering this one and with the third-placed team losing, any one of four teams could win the league. Two more performances like this and it may all come down to goal difference, but it’s going to be very exciting.