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Lancaster football Men’s firsts have slumped to their seventh defeat of the league season, with a spirited performance against undefeated league leaders, the University of Manchester.
This latest defeat means Lancaster’s next three games are of extreme importance in order to avoid relegation from the Northern Conference 1A league. Their second half performance against an undefeated Manchester side showed that this aim is well within reach.
Lancaster were undone in the first 15 minutes with a hatrick of goals from the Manchester striker. A vastly improved second half performance gave Lancaster some hope with a goal from substitute Chris Brown bringing the score to 3-1. Lancaster found themselves unable to build on this and a late Manchester goal hammered the final nail in Lancaster’s coffin.
From the very start it was clear that things were not going to go Lancaster’s way, with Lancaster finding themselves playing from right to left towards the sun. Some early pressure from Manchester in and around the Lancaster box forced the home team to produce a series of clearing headers. This pressure came to its climax in the 10th minute, when Manchester’s first corner of the game resulted in a goal from an easy header by the towering Manchester striker at the far post. It was not long before they were able to double their lead when the referee pointed to the spot after the Manchester attacker was fouled in the box. The Manchester striker sent the keeper the wrong way, slotting the ball comfortably into the bottom right corner to score his second goal of the game in the 12th minute.
Lancaster’s best chance of the first half came in quick response to the Manchester goal when a poor back pass by the Manchester defender gave Lancaster’s Rob Newton a clear one on one with the keeper. However, his poor shot was comfortably gathered by the goalkeeper. Some great footwork from the left wing for Manchester gave them their third goal of the game and the striker his hatrick. When the winger was able to beat the Lancaster right back and produce a cross which found the feet of the Manchester striker, he found the net comfortably. The remainder of the first half transcended into a number of missed chances by Manchester. An effective use of the long ball put Lancaster’s defence into complete disarray whilst a solid defensive performance by Manchester ensured Lancaster never looked like scoring.
The second half kicked off with much improvement from Lancaster. A desperate scramble in the Lancaster box resulted in a great counter attacking opportunity for Lancaster who were able to force a corner. Another opportunity came in the 58th minute when Lancaster found themselves through on goal, but another poor shot was easily gathered by the keeper in a move that was reminiscent of the Lancaster’s only real opportunity of the first half. Lancaster did not have to wait long for the elusive goal however, when substitute Chris Brown found himself clean through. Not even the keepers attempt to close him down could stop him, and Brown slotted the ball into the bottom right corner to bring the score to 3-1 in the 60th minute. It appeared that Manchester had lost much of their attacking flair that they showed in the first half with a series of offsides hampering their attack. Some poor defending by Lancaster, however, gave Manchester a cheap fourth goal in the 85th minute, when a scramble in the box allowed Manchester to poke the ball into the net. This sealed the game for Manchester in what was a thoroughly deserved 4-1 victory.
Captain Alex Low praised Lancaster for their “great performance in the second half” yet highlighted the importance of “taking this performance into the next three games”. Lancaster’s next game sees them at home to fellow strugglers The University of Sheffield, in what will surely be a vital relegation battle. Both these teams must face each other twice before the league season is over and both will be desperate for a win to avoid relegation.