Burnside Heights came out on the wrong side of the top-of-the-table clash in the Essendon District Football League Women’s competition.

The Bears and Pascoe Vale entered the match undefeated, clearly the best two sides all year.

It was the more experienced Panthers that got over the line, winning 4.8 (32)-3.1 (19) and assuming premiership favoritism.

Bears’ coach Brent Thomas said the result was the side’s first reality check, as it had won all its previous matches easily.

“We played a good team and only lost by 13 points,” he said. “We went away from our structures. It was a physical game that didn’t go our way.”

Thomas said the Panthers talls did the damage, stopping a lot of the Bear forays forward.

The Bears weren’t helped by injuries that left them with 16 players for parts of the game.

Ebony Stevens was the Bears’ best, despite having to leave the field after taking a heavy knock.

Sina Mason, captain Kayla Ravanello and under-18 player Laycee Eustace were the other standouts for the Bears.

Thomas said that at times, Ravanello had three defenders lining up on her.

The win leaves the Bears second on the ladder with a 5-1 record.

Despite being disappointed with the result, Thomas said it was important to remember how far they’d come in their first season.

“If you had said to me in June last year this is where we would be at, I would have taken this every day of the week,” he said.

“We are so far ahead of where I thought we would be.

“Sometimes a loss can teach character and we stuck fat.

“We could have lost by 10 goals. I’m very proud of the team.”

The Bears’ hopes this season received a setback in the previous round when competition-leading goalkicker Brooke McKinley suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Thomas said it would mean a restructure of the forward line.

The Bears will this week face the Sunbury Lions, who are third on the ladder with a 5-2 record.

Thomas said they expected another physical game.

In other results, Hillside lost to Avondale Heights-Taylors Lakes, 6.7 (43)-3.1 (19).

The Lakers were the better side all day, recording their second win of the season.

Tarryn Healy was the best of the Sharks.

Keilor defeated Roxburgh Park 11.18 (84)-1.3 (9), Aberfeldie snuck home against Westmeadows 4.7 (31)-3.7 (25) and Craigieburn defeated Keilor Park 13.11 (89)-2.1 (13).