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As the season draws towards the end for many university sports, there are always going to be a few games, with more than just the match result riding on the outcome. Such was the case in this match, as Lancaster Men’s 2nds team faced a Manchester side, in need of only a win to gain promotion.
Yet due to the match between second place Edge Hill and bottom of the table Liverpool, a win for Lancaster could potentially see them ruining Manchester’s chances of going up. What a time then for the home side to produce a great team performance, and bag only their second clean sheet in three years.
The game got underway and Manchester soon established their rhythm, maintaining possession and passing the ball as they looked every bit like a team poised for promotion. It looked like it was going to be a long game for Lancaster, as the early pressure resulted in the first short corner for the visitors with barely 5 minutes played.
If Manchester looked like scoring goals, then Josh Latham looked equally capable of keeping them out, as the Lancaster keeper pulled of a fine save from the first corner and an equally classy stop from the effort that followed. Not only did the home side show their metal in defence but they also looked to provide a threat as they broke forward. Matt Morley looked particularly dangerous on the left wing as he drove forward on numerous occasions, passed the ball well and caused an all round nuisance to the visiting side.
As the game wore on Lancaster began to see more of the ball. Matt Morley created an opportunity out of pretty much nothing hit the side of the goal, whilst Tristan Pomfret and Prem Marwaha were combining well in the centre of the pitch. Despite holding off the Manchester attack the Lancaster defence, at times, looked shaky with the ball being lost in dangerous positions as a result of trying to run the ball out and failing to clear.
The deadlock was broken with just a few minutes left of the first half, the goal going in favour of the home side. A well worked passing move down the right wing saw the ball cut back across the goal to the unmarked Richard Ash. Having seen little of the ball thus far in the game, the lone front man showed no lack of concentration as he found him self one on one, waited for the keeper to commit and then coolly picked his spot.
The second half began with Manchester looking negative, being somewhat out-muscled by the more physical Lancaster. Despite seeing little of the ball Richard Ash worked hard to impose himself, as he harried the visiting defence, affording them little time and composure.
Yet with promotion in their hands Manchester were always going to provide an attacking threat. Periods of long possession from the visiting side were punctuated with good opportunities on goal, only to be denied by the heroic Josh Latham who pulled off some quite remarkable saves.
Despite the presence and possession of the visiting team, it appeared like it was just going to be one of those days for the Manchester side. This supposition was duly confirmed when, with only 10 minutes of play remaining the hard work of Richard Ash paid dividends once again slotting home from an awkward angle.
Credit must be given to Manchester as, despite being 2 goals down with very little time left, they still looked to push forward. And, with only 5 minutes left to go, the ball was once again found the goal. However it came not in the form of a consolation strike for the visitors but as a powerful David Hough strike straight from a well worked short corner.
After the game Captain James Higgins summed up his view of his teams well deserved 3-0 victory; “It was a backs to the wall performance against a team at the top of the league. We play our best hockey on the counter attack and that showed today”