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Having won their previous five games across all competitions, Lancaster Women’s Hockey 1st team looked to further extend their winning spell against UCLAN. Sitting level on points in the Northern conference 2A, the match up was a local affair not only with regards to geographical location.
Lancaster’s desire to maintain their recent run of form was visible for all to see in the first half. Despite early pressure from UCLAN, it was the home team that dominated the tempo of the game, constantly looking to move forward. Chances however were few and far between, with the play largely being conducted in the midfield. It took until midway through the first half before either keeper was called into action. A strong period of pressure from the home side had the visitors pinned deep into their own half when the ball broke to Lancaster’s Laura Woodhead, who hit a hopeful shot that was well dealt with by the UCLAN keeper.
The pressure continued to mount on the visitors and Lancaster came close again from the short corner courtesy of a driven shot from Faye Garland. A strong tackle by Lancaster’s Mae Wilson brought about a break in play as her opposite number received some attention, before declaring she was unable to continue. The respite seemed to serve the visitors well, allowing them to regroup and finally string together a few touches on the ball, eventually resulting in forcing Rhiannon Bedford into making her first save of the game.
The game opened it up at this point with Lancaster looking the more threatening on the attack, but coming under pressure at times from the UCLAN counter-play. Another period of intense pressure from Lancaster saw Faye Garland testing the visiting keeper twice over, as the home side had a succession of short corners.
UCLAN failed to heed the warning, and after giving away yet another corner paid the price as Garland finally got the goal she deserved, powering a fierce shot straight through the UCLAN keeper to take Lancaster 1-0 ahead. As the half time whistle blew with the away team lucky to still be in the game, Lancaster looked certain to continue their winning streak.
The second half got under way with the impotus on the visitors to make an impression on the game. Yet it was Lancaster once again who were taking the game by the scruff of the neck. Eleri Jones started particularly sharply, looking dangerous as she weaved forward up the pitch. Meanwhile defensively Lancaster looked composed, with Rachel Steele equal to anything UCLAN tried to force down the right flank.
However it was an unfortunate mix up at the back that was Lancaster’s downfall. Having pushed far up the pitch, a long clearing ball caught the home side on the back foot and, with neither keeper or full back dealing with the danger, the ball was squared across the goal mouth for an easy tap-in. A soft goal for Lancaster to concede and one that clearly rattled them as they struggled to regain their composure from the restart.
With only eight minutes left to play and the complexion of the game completely changed, it was the home team that looked to be desperately clinging on. It was this failure to impose themselves that ultimately lead to Lancaster’s demise in the final minutes. Unable to get on the ball, and pushed deeper towards their own goal line, the defence were eventually overwhelmed as the visitors managed to bundle in a scrappy winner that sealed the comeback.
Captain Annika Hall acknowledged the nature of a game that saw Lancaster dominate for all but the final 10 minutes: “We have been playing particularly well recently and, as a team, we play good together. However we have moments when we let our heads drop. That’s what happened today, we were on top until they scored and then we seemed to collapse.”