A DOUBLE from Matt Johnson has rocketed Wanderers back into the men’s Premier League Hockey winner’s circle courtesy of a 3-0 shut-out of battlers Bathurst City.
Coach Pete Shea praised the composure of his side in the three-goal victory as the visitors peppered City’s goal at the Bob Roach Field for virtually the entire first period before a sensational solo effort from Johnson on the stroke of half-time broke the shackles.
New to the Wanderers list this season, Johnson drew two defenders before brilliantly executing a tomahawk strike, one that flew into the top corner of the City goal and gave the visitors a 1-0 advantage heading into the break.
Tellingly for Wanderers, too, they didn’t let it slip.
Keiron Gentles then successfully converted a short corner chance for Wanderers before Johnson completed his brace in fine style, showing immense strength in a goal-mouth scrap to shoot the ball past City’s Kris Grant in goals, the Bathurst keeper one of his side’s best after weathering the visitors’ early onslaught.
“We could have lost it a bit at that point,” Shea said looking back at his side’s first half.
“But we maintained our composure and that’s pleasing. We still scored the goals we needed, Matty’s got that ability.”
Shea said it was nice to see his side back in the winner’s circle, especially after tough losses to Bathurst St Pat’s and then again to Lithgow Panthers, 10-2 and then 6-3 respectively.
The four points banked means the Wanderers move back into the competition’s top four, leaping ahead of Zig Zag after the Lithgow-based side suffered a 7-1 loss to runaway competition leaders Bathurst St Pat’s on Saturday.
With a top five in place for this year’s finals, Wanderers essentially need to continue to beat sides like City, Dubbo and Parkes to maintain a place in the semi-final race.
“I think the effort has been there for us every week,” Shea said.
“We just came up against an opposition today that was not nearly as good as what we have seen before.
“We’re creating enough opportunities. We controlled the game from the outset, which was pleasing as well.”
n ORANGE WANDERERS 3 (Matt Johnson 2, Keiron Gentles) def BATHURST CITY 0.