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Lancaster failed to capitalise on a dominant display against a poor Sheffield side as they conceded two goals in five minutes towards the end of the second half.
From the first kick it seemed that this game was destined to give Lancaster a much deserved win. The opening period of the match was comfortably controlled by Lancaster who played the ball around the pitch at a fast pace mainly within Sheffield’s half; command of the midfield gave Lancaster much more possession than the visiting side.
Four minutes in, a trademark Rory Delap-esque throw-in from Craig Hickford was met by a towering header from the Lancaster skipper Alex Low, but the effort sailed just wide of the mark. Minutes later, a long field ball from Sheffield gave the Lancaster defence reason to worry, but the end product was not there and the Lancaster goal was threatened by little more than a scuffed shot.
Lancaster, however, looked far more comfortable in possession until a misplaced clearance allowed Sheffield’s number seven to advance unchallenged. From 20 yards, he released a thunderbolt of a strike which soured into the top right hand corner of the net. It was an undeserved yet truly sensational goal, which perhaps Lancaster could have prevented had they been quicker to apply pressure.
Lancaster showed great character not to be shaken by the goal and they maintained the same shape and composure that was apparent before the wonder strike. It was clear that Sheffield’s weakness was their left side, constantly exploited by the passes made by Barnett, which released the pace of Daniel Hull to pester Sheffield’s back four.
Twenty minutes in, Barnett found himself with ample amounts of time and space to put a long ball into the box which lobbed the Sheffield goalkeeper from just in front of the half way line. What perhaps was intended as a cross resulted in a sensational unintended goal to make the score 1-1.
The 35th minute capped off the best move of the half for either side as Lancaster caught Sheffield’s midfield again in possession, stringing together a great pass and go move on the edge of the box which was parried wide by a great save from the Sheffield goalkeeper.
Sheffield began the second half with the belief that there was still all to play for, and they certainly looked more menacing on the attack than in their dismal first half display. Three minutes into the half, their attack was almost rewarded with a goal as a miscommunication between the Lancaster goalkeeper and his defence almost saw Lancaster concede early.
Lancaster’s defence easily took care of what it was presented with, and as a whole still remained a far more consistent side in all areas of the pitch after 60 minutes. Harnity, having a great performance in midfield, gifted Hull with a lobbed through ball over Sheffield’s defence, but the shot was struck directly at the keeper and cleared. Lancaster should have taken the lead.
Sheffield instantly responded to Lancaster’s missed chance and a cleverly crafted through ball allowed the Sheffield number eleven to beat the offside trap, pass it round the keeper and gift himself a tap in. The Lancaster men were left looking for a flag that was never raised. The goal stood, and Sheffield took the lead. This was only Sheffield’s second chance of the half, leaving Lancaster astonished to be behind.
Lancaster responded in a more aggressive manner to this goal which resulted in crunching tackles and eventually led them to give away a free kick from the edge of their own area. The free kick was expertly curled into the top corner of the net; Lancaster had conceded two within five minutes. A shocking tale of two quick fire goals from the visitors that nobody watching could say Sheffield, deserved.
Lancaster suffered greatly from their own frustration and could not gain the result they deserved and clearly are capable of. The match was best summarised by Lancaster’s captain Alex Low, as he claimed “We dominated the game and when we occasionally switched off, they capitalised”.