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Panthers pounce to stun reigning champs

The previously winless Monaro Panthers have pulled off the upset of the Premier League season with a stunning 2-1 victory over champion Canberra FC at Deakin Stadium yesterday.

Canberra FC took the lead six minutes before the break when Nicky Rogers scored from an acute angle.

But the Panthers came out and equalised in the 52nd minute through ex-FC captain Paul Ivanic.

Awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area, Ivanic curled a beauty over the wall and into the corner of the net to bring the visitors level.

With five minutes left, the Panthers stunned the home crowd when a dipping drive from 17-year-old Tyson Cottam found the back of the net.

Monaro coach Njegosh Popovich welcomed back goalkeeper Rade Kosanovic, who had taken some time out of the game with his young family.


''He was outstanding with not only his game play, but also the experience he brings in the defence,'' Popovich said.

Kosanovic pulled off a spectacular save in the dying minutes to stop what appeared to be a certain goal, setting off ecstatic Panthers celebrations.

But for the team, the celebrations ended there.

''We're still sitting at the bottom of the ladder which we don't feel we should be and we'll work towards getting above that,'' Popovich said.

''The celebration will be at the end of the year when we've proved a few people wrong.

''We'll take the result and a pat on the back. To beat a team like [FC] at Deakin is a pretty big achievement and hopefully it will put us in good stead going forward.''

Across town, Stephen Domenici only managed half a game on the field for the Cooma Tigers after spending the week trialling with Sydney FC, but that was enough for the emerging star to score twice, proving the difference against Canberra Olympic.

Domenici opened proceedings early for the Tigers, scoring inside 30 seconds at O'Connor Enclosed.

Olympic hit back in the 17th minute through Justin Selkirk, but Domenici put the visitors back in front in the 24th minute with his second and Gustavo Roldan cemented their lead a minute later.

Ahead 3-1 at half time, Tigers coach Gabi Wilk took Domenici out of the game to rest a strained hamstring.

Olympic did everything but score in the second half.

''We had three defensive errors, three moments of madness and Cooma capitalised on those. That said we hit the post two or three times as well, so it could have been a completely different game,'' club vice-president John Athanasiou said afterwards.

The win keeps Cooma in touch with league leader Belconnen and Canberra FC, and ahead of Woden Valley on goal differential after their 2-1 win over Canberra City.