IT WAS European Cup Final night, but even the football fanatics were prepared to sacrifice UEFA's showpiece for what promised to be one of the closest Battle of the Bands heats yet.

And so it proved. York glam punk and Goth outfit Finger Puppets edged out Finelines, York's stylish answer to Belle and Sebastian meets The Charlatans, an odd result that reversed the placings from heat one.

In between all this came Fadge, a four-piece of confident and raucous 16-year-olds, who, when they realise what they're supposed to be doing, can surely look forward to big things.

Finelines kicked things off. They are a hugely-talented band who write all their own material - but nerves, and problems with the sound, could be seen early on. They fought gamely on though, got into their stride and played some storming tunes.

A pumped up version of On Together, a tune that comes directly from singer/guitarist Dave Turley's heart, stood out, as did Over The Border, a song about the risks of entering into a particularly infamous part of Middlesbrough.

Next came the night's victors, Finger Puppets. They turned out a set of powerful, in-yer-face Goth punk rock, that had the small crowd of short-haired teenagers at the front moshing for all they were worth.

While there is no doubt Finger Puppets are accomplished musicians, their tunes are a mix of covers and heard it before' Goth, meaning they need something extra to stand out. In frontwoman Esme, they've got it, and more.

The voice this woman has is incredible, it pierces your bones and stays there when she's long since moved on to the next line. Add that to the fact she had most of the males in the crowd wrapped around her little finger and things looked good. Very good, as it turned out.

And then came Fadge. Nothing, it seems, fazes these schoolies, and good luck to them.

They have already achieved a standard of musicianship that brought them pretty close to nicking this, and in Phil Smith they have a frontman who knows exactly what he's about. The kids love their new wave punk and BOTB judges 2003 could well feel the same way.

But for now it's 2002.

Finelines will feel hard done by, and they certainly outplayed Finger Puppets.

But sometimes it's stage presence and following that make the difference. Happily for Finger Puppets, that's how it was last night.