Late goal from Wells leads Eagles past Pelham in tough fight

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

PELHAM – After a night full of missed opportunities, incredible defense and great goalkeeping, one second changed the entire outcome of a thrilling matchup between Class 6A No. 5 Pelham and Class 7A No. 2 Oak Mountain.

With a minute left in the game in a scoreless tie through the first 79 minutes of the 80-minute game, Cody Wells was able to find the ball in a mad scramble with both teams hoping to pick up a final-minute goal to escape with a nail-biting victory.

Off a corner kick, the ball was played perfectly in front of the box where Wells stood. He leaped in the air, and struck the ball perfectly off a header and sent it straight into the net for the game-winning goal in a 1-0 victory.

For Oak Mountain (7-3, 3-0), the thrilling win helped the Eagles bounce back from their second loss of the season, while a heartbreaking stretch continued for the Pelham Panthers.

A night after losing to Class 5A No. 1 Briarwood 1-0, the Panthers (6-4, 1-0) lost their second straight game in as many days to a top-two team by a final score of 1-0. It also marked the third time in the last three losses for the Panthers that they have lost to a top-two ranked team by a final score of 1-0, having lost to Homewood 1-0 on Feb. 26.

While it has been a heartbreaking stretch for Pelham, it’s also a chance to build confidence, knowing they have had chances to take down three top teams from three different classifications. Despite the losses, any one play could have made the difference and led to a win.

In the first half of this game, both teams had their chances, but great goalkeeping and missed shots were the storyline.

The Eagles got one great chance and hit the post on a shot from Perry Brake, while they also earned a couple of free kicks and corners that were unsuccessful despite great looks.

Pelham spent much of the first half being forced to play defense due to Oak Mountain’s attack, but the Panthers also got two good opportunities missing on a shot near the box as well as a long free kick.

In the second half, the game remained a strong defensive battle. Oak Mountain got great chances again, but David Clinton continued making big saves for the Panthers.

Pelham still struggled to find many great looks, but got a long free kick with 16 minutes remaining in the game that got into the box, but never threatened the keeper.

Then, in the final seven minutes, the action really picked up from both sides.

Both teams got opportunities inside the others box, but both cleared the ball.

The two continued battling hard in the final minutes with Pelham earning one more long free kick with three minutes remaining that was cleared.

That’s when Oak Mountain quickly turned up field and earned the final great opportunity on the game-winning corner kick.

This time around, the Eagles capitalized when Wells was able to find the ball and head it in for the 1-0 victory.

Photos available at Shelbycountyphotos.com.