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Lancaster University Men’s 1st picked up their first point of the season in an enthralling 3-3 draw against bitter rivals UCLAN. Lancaster completely outplayed UCLAN and were unfortunate not to take the three points.
The game started in an unbelievably scrappy fashion, with the boggy pitch restricting Lancaster’s usual free flowing football. Lancaster had the first effort worthy of note in the game with Chris Brown curling an effort towards the bottom corner forcing a fine save from the UCLAN goalkeeper. Lancaster continued to dominate possession with left-back Dan Whittingham unleashing a fierce effort that the goalkeeper could only parry; however it was the UCLAN defence who reacted the fastest to clear.
UCLAN responded strongly to Lancaster’s period of dominance, creating three clear cut chances in as many minutes. The first of which came from a clever dinked ball from their centre forward, before a clever curled effort that was saved smartly by John Moran. UCLAN blazed over from the resultant corner, before another opportunity fell to their centre back, who danced his way past two Lancaster defenders before crashing a thunderous strike against the post.
The first goal of the game came from UCLAN just two minutes before half-time, as their big centre forward laid the ball off cleverly to their number six, who struck a shot that went straight through Moran. Within a minute, Mike Hogg, for Lancaster, was played through over the top, controlled the ball magnificently and showed great composure to round the goalkeeper before slotting home with the final touch of the first half.
The second half began at a fierce pace with tackles crashing in from both teams, however the referee seemed reluctant to card anyone. Moran made a smart double save to deny UCLAN; he pounced low to deny the initial effort, before reacting quickly to save the follow up.
A clever ball over the top to UCLAN’s target-man saw him bearing clean through on goal, seemingly destined to score, before a desperate lunge from Mike Scott, brought him down, to give away a penalty. The referee seemed to have left his cards at home, as Scott had denied a clear goal-scoring opportunity, he probably should have been sent from the field of play. The UCLAN striker dispatched the penalty with aplomb into the top right hand corner sending Moran the wrong way.
Only minutes later, Hogg of Lancaster was clean through on goal and as he went to round the goalkeeper, the keeper grabbed out at his leg, but there was no contact made before Hogg fell to the ground in dramatic fashion. The referee waved away the penalty appeals before having a quiet word with Hogg.
Next, came the play of the match, as Brown flicked the ball on cleverly to Hogg on the half-way line, before Hogg played an inch perfect pass to Dan Hull who had bombed forward from midfield to finish the opportunity with the nonchalant ease of a premiership striker.
Lancaster had two more chances in quick succession as their goalkeeper denied Hulls rasping 25 yard effort that was locked on the top corner. Moments later Rob Newton headed just over from eight yards. However this was not the end of Lancaster’s pressure. Substitute Craig Hickford flicked onto Hogg, who finished coolly from the edge of the area, to send Lancaster 3-2 up. The goal did not come without controversy however. As the referee had to overrule the UCLAN linesmen’s incorrect offside decision, who had taken matters into his own hands with some dubious officiating. The UCLAN goalkeeper was irate at the decision, as he demonstrated by booting the ball halfway to Galgate in dissent.
No sooner had Lancaster taken the lead; they had given away an unnecessary free-kick in a dangerous position. Although the free-kick initially seemed to be harmless, it skipped treacherously off the surface, which caused Moran trouble, and he could only palm the ball out to UCLAN’s centre forward who composedly squared the ball to his team mate who slotted home with ease for a 90th minute equaliser.
UCLAN had one final counter-attack from a Lancaster corner; however Jack Davidson showed great positional awareness and defensive tenacity to prise the ball from UCLAN in the dying seconds of the match to help Lancaster hold on for a 3-3 draw.
University Captain Alex Low said: “It’s been a tough start to the season, having been promoted last year it was always going to be difficult. We’ve been very unlucky with injuries and are still yet to play with our full strength team.”
Stand in Captain Ric Marshall said: “It’s great to get our first point of the season, but our performance deserved more today. I thought we were outstanding and hopefully we can pick up our first win next week.”