Lancaster shock an unprepared Chester

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Photograph by Alex Rastall

Lancaster 4 – 1 Chester

Lancaster Women’s Hockey firsts dominated their Chester counterparts to see them safely through to the next round of the Northern Conference Cup.

Despite the Chester coach sounding his confidence in a pep talk prior to the game, “Chester, your warm up was so much better than theirs, you can easily beat them,” the away side were no match for the determined Lancaster side.

The home side started the game by forcefully driving the ball forward into the Chester defence and regaining possession with a series of impressive tackling manoevres. Lancaster then played the ball up the field further and number 26 took a long attempt at the goal which went wide. This was closely followed by another unlucky miss for Lancaster.

After a period of back-and-forth possession in Chester’s defensive half, the ball was driven out to give Lancaster a side hit, which ultimately found its way back into the possession of Chester’s sweeper who drove it back down the pitch to her teammate on the wing. This was the opposition’s first real attempt of a score but despite there being a few seconds in which Lancaster’s defence was lacking, the opportunity was not met by Chester’s attackers.

After another attempt at goal in the Chester scoring zone, Alexandra Claunce put in a skilful tackle and set up a three person set play to confidently reassert pressure on the away side. Solid passing and speed delivered the ball to Holly Robinson who drove it forward to remarkably score the first goal of the game.

Following the restart Chester kept possession and found their scoring zone in an attempt of a quick come back. Nonetheless, even despite a short corner, the away side missed.

Back in the hands of Lancaster, the ball was skilfully dribbled back into Chester’s own defensive half and Claunce managed to deal with two Chester players trying to tackle her form either side. Once in the scoring zone, Chester felt under pressure and ended up obstructing play which was rightfully turned against them meaning that a short corner was awarded to Lancaster.

Unfortunately, the opportunity from this position was missed and the ball was delivered to Chester’s number five who sprinted it to the opposite end of the field at quite a pace. However, Lancaster’s number six managed to match her pace on this occasion and when the Chester player was met with no support at the other end, Lancaster won the ball back with ease.

Back in midfield, the home-side hit the ball successfully to their number 6 who swept it towards the scoring zone for a prime opportunity. A short corner was awarded to Lancaster for Chester’s obstruction and, despite the shot being on target, the goalkeeper saved it.

As Lancaster continued to maintain possession scoring opportunities continued. As soon as the pressurised opposition got the ball, Lancaster were quick with interceptions and put Chester on the defence again as the whistle blew for half-time.

Once play restarted Lancaster were fueled up once more. The victory-hungry side drove the ball forwards and Claire Jamison produced an incredibly quick score, which undoubtedly set the tone for the latter half of the game.

Chester responded by trying out the Lancaster defence and provided a good counter-attack to rectify their deficit. However, their efforts were fruitless and Lancaster regained possession.

The leaders followed this with a few shots at goal until the inevitable moment arose when number nine managed to outpace three Chester players and pass the ball to number four who dribbled through a Chester tackle. Number four and six then passed between each other to drive it closer to the goal, setting it up for Aveline Cruickshank to flick it into the back of the net.

Following this, Lancaster had unlimited confidence and played well against a defeated looking Chester. The opposition attempted to come back for some pride but ultimately failed to do so.

The home-side, even though 3-0 up, refused to take the win for granted. Claunce defended well against the speedy Chester number five once more and won the ball back for her Lancaster teammates.

Chester’s defence at this point was not only slow but provided Lancaster with ample space to deliver the ball into the scoring zone. An obstructive move from the opposition gave Lancaster a short corner and Natalie Tyson made it look easy as she found the back of the net with the ball.

At 4-0 down Chester once again attempted a comeback and despite the goalkeeper’s defending effort, there was confusion from a Lancaster player as to whether they had committed a foul or not. This ultimately gave Chester an opportunity and they finally managed to score in the last minute.

After the game, Captain Alexandra Claunce commented: “I am thoroughly pleased with how the girls performed and have adapted today, despite us being faced with many injuries we still managed to pull out a brilliant performance and it looks to be an exciting season for us.”

Chairwoman, Faye Garland, also made note of the fact that “the first team is undefeated on a Saturday and has only lost one BUCS match this year [and are] hoping to loose no more! It is a complete turnaround from last season; the focus and determination has really made a difference this year.”

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