Pelham claims tight battle with rival Helena

Published 4:15 pm Friday, March 22, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

HELENA – Intensity is always expected when the Pelham Panthers and Helena Huskies clash, and that held true once again as the perennial rivals met on the soccer pitch for the first time this season.

In the end, Matthew Chaux’s goal was the lone score separating the two sides as the Panthers won 1-0 on Thursday, March 21 at Helena High School.

However, the match was tightly contested throughout despite the difference in recent form from 11-3-3 Pelham and 7-7-3 Helena.

The Huskies got right to work in the second minute thanks to a corner kick. While the cross off the corner came close, it narrowly missed across the goal.

After Pelham had a close chance in the fifth minute, Helena ripped off a sharp shot down low on the goal that Panthers keeper Raul Jacobo saved.

Helena had a great piece of defending in the 16th minute as Pelham crossed the ball to a forward runner, but the Huskies were right there to contest and batted the ball out for an unsuccessful corner kick.

Two minutes later in the 18th minute, the ball rolled to Luis Bravo, but he couldn’t connect on the shot and the ball went out for a corner kick.

Just moments after on another corner kick, the Panthers broke the deadlock.

In the 19th minute, the Helena keeper punched the crossing ball from the corner up and out to Jake Garner, who sent the ball curling back in the middle to Chaux. The senior then slotted a shot into the bottom left corner to score the opening goal.

That gave Pelham the 1-0 lead heading into the halftime break.

The Huskies threatened throughout the opening 15 minutes of the second half and had a pair of shots that missed.

In the 56th minute, Helena came very close to equalizing, but Jacobo quickly reacted for a save in the bottom right corner. The Huskies follow-up effort forced him to jump to the top corner and make a second save.

That proved to be Helena’s best chance of the rest of the night as Pelham had the majority of the shots from that point on from the open field and set pieces like the two free kicks set up by Huskies yellow cards in the 60th and 73rd minutes.

However, the match wasn’t without intensity as multiple incidents on the field led to fouls as well as shouting from the stands between the clashing fans.

The Panthers held on throughout the half to secure the clean sheet and earn the 1-0 win.

Both Pelham and Helena will take a week off for spring break. The Panthers will hit the road again to face another area opponent in their next game on Tuesday, April 2 at 7 p.m. in Briarwood, while the Huskies will travel to Pell City for a match at the same time.