Lancaster men’s first team played host to the University of Liverpool men’s first team in a game of hockey that had the potential to be a very interesting spectacle. After an immensely successful promotion achieving season last year Lancaster now find themselves residing in the Northern Conference 2A, where they face the University of Liverpool who also are new to the league, albeit through relegation.
The final hockey game of the day was to be played in typically awful Lancaster weather, with freezing winds and driving rain that threatened to pose difficulties for both keepers. However the main concern for either team prior to the start was the inadequacy of the pitch lighting. With the wind causing the ball to swerve and dip both on the ground as well as in the air, being able to clearly see was of paramount importance to the players. Regardless, the game was to get underway slightly later than predicted at 16.20.
Liverpool started with the hit off and immediately began to ask questions of the Lancaster defence with their high tempo passing game. The main threat posed by Lancaster in the early stages was through the counter attack, with the occasionally well placed long ball looking to exploit the high backline of the Liverpool defence. However it was not until the ninth minute that the first clear chance was created. A period of intense pressure saw Lancaster being held deeper and deeper in the final third of the pitch, eventually leading to an opportunity for Liverpool, that would have surely resulted in a goal had it not been for a quality save from Lancaster keeper Josh Latham.
Liverpool continued to dominate the game, until they finally broke the deadlock in the 21st minute. The goal coming from a penalty corner for a foot violation. Liverpool picked up after the restart where they had left off and it wasn’t long before they were testing keeper Latham again. Despite his best efforts there was little the Lancaster keeper could do to prevent Liverpool’s second. A well worked move from a free hit resulting in the ball being smashed home from close range.
You would be forgiven for thinking that at two nil down Lancaster would retreat into their shells. However an attacking move directly from the centre saw Lancaster winning a free hit midway into the Liverpool half. It was quickly taken and before the Liverpool defence knew where they were, the ball was being squared across the face of their goal for Sam Crich to hit home a fine goal for the home side.
Liverpool began the second half looking strong, but an excellent defensive work rate by Lancaster saw the visitors being able to do little with the ball in the early exchanges. Getting a draw out of the game would have been a good result for Lancaster, and they came close to getting an equalizer five minutes in to the second period. A solid period of attack from the home side worked an opportunity that was goal bound, had it not been for a well timed block. Liverpool began to dominate possession with their silky passing, but on the whole the game was evenly matched. Just as the game was looking to quieten down Liverpool snatched their third. A fast paced attack that resulted in an easy finish for the visitors.
Lancaster immediately looked to respond from the restart with a surging move towards the Liverpool goal, but the attack broke down and they found themselves once again on the back foot. The fourth goal for the visiting side came from a quickly taken corner, which gave Lancaster no time to regroup defensively.
At this point the game was beginning to look stretched. Lancaster were really pushing, trying to get something more out of the game. However it was this forward desire that left them vulnerable to the Liverpool counter that resulted in the fifth goal, and ultimately put the game to bed. The move broke down the left flank and a sharp pass across the goal made for an easy finish. There was just about time for Lancaster to get one last touch of the ball before the full time whistle blew.
An unflattering score line for the home team, who had played well against a very good side and in unfavourable conditions. After the game Lancaster captain Tom Gordon said “We didn’t expect an easy game, they’re a strong side. It wasn’t our greatest performance admittedly and we let them pass the ball around far too easily”.