Lancaster Men’s Football 1sts celebrated their second title of the year after Lewis Rowland’s team defeated Sheffield Hallam 2-1 in the BUCS Cup final to finish off a remarkable Double winning season.
The Champions may have felt a touch of Déjà vu when they were awarded a penalty late on in the match after similar circumstances also aided their Quarter-Final victory over Chester. However, Lancaster were firmly focused on the present and substitute Mike Hogg topped off a fine second half performance to score the winning goal.
Team Captain Rowland reflected on what has been a great year for everyone involved in the men’s football teams at Lancaster. “At the start of every season you set your sights on winning everything you can do, and fortunately enough for us we’ve managed to achieve that with both the 1st and 2nd team so we couldn’t be happier,” said Rowland, who added that the team’s amazing achievement will live on in the memories of the players for years to come. “The fact we got the double was even better and something that a lot of the lads will remember for a long time.”
Lancaster were unlucky to find themselves 1-0 down at half-time after a wickedly deflected shot by Hallam’s Richie Bevan wrong footed Jack Harrison in goal and trickled into the net. Two clear chances had already come the host’s way in the first half, when Adam Strachan rose well in the area but could only direct his header across the face of goal, while Chris Brown also had an effort well blocked by the left boot of Campbell in the Hallam goal.
Rowland chose not to dwell on the score line though, and inspired his players to a much greater display in the second period. “It wasn’t so much the score that concerned me at half time but the performance, the boys knew I wasn’t happy with it and they knew they were letting themselves down with how they’d performed.”
He added: “It was more about making sure that we improved our effort and started to play the football we know we can do, and I think in the last 30 minutes that began to show, especially grabbing the two goals in the last 8 minutes or so.”
Lancaster managed to level the scores midway into the second half after Hallam failed to clear the ball away from their area properly. An Intelligent run by Pete Hickford allowed him to escape his marker and latch onto a through ball which brought him one on one with Campbell. His superb finish would prove to be the catalyst for Lancaster’s fightback.
Further sloppy defending by Hallam allowed Phil Collinson, instrumental in many of Lancaster’s offensive moves, to dart into the box before a push in the back sent him crashing to the ground. Both referee and linesman were unanimous in their decisions to give the spot kick and even though Campbell dived the right way he was unable to stop the powerful finish of Hogg.
Rowland, whose own participation in the latter stages of the competition was cut short by a broken leg, spoke of his frustration at being unable to get on the pitch and help his teammates. “It was a bad injury that I suffered, and at times it’s hard knowing you can’t help, especially as we were playing so well at the time. Frustration can kick in sometimes, but the fact the lads have kept winning in the league and cup make it far easier to deal with.”
“As the game went on – I guess it was the frustration that the bounces weren’t going our way when we needed them to, but eventually they did, and I’m just happy they came when they did.”
For Rowland and his team the cup success was a deserved reward for their efforts throughout the year. “When the final whistle went it was just the excitement of knowing a year’s hard work has paid off and everything we wanted to do, we’ve done. We couldn’t be happier about it – It was absolute justice for a year of hard work.”