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Lancaster Seconds 2-2 Manchester Thirds
Lancaster were forced to settle for a draw after being minutes away from a surprise win against league leaders Manchester Thirds. The home side had come from behind in the second half but were undone by a set piece goal in the dying stages.
It was top versus bottom before the game, with Lancaster only having gained a point from their opening three fixtures. With that in mind, they went all out for the win and forced the pressure early on.
Striker Neil Brown had an early sight at goal but fired wide from just inside the area.
For the most part however, both defences were resilient in the first half. Manchester had a couple of real openings but Lancaster threw themselves in the way to block.
At the other end, Lancaster had a half-chance through Rob Creegen’s free kick from 25 yards which went straight at Manchester goalkeeper Matt Jardin.
The biggest chance of the game came shortly after. Creegen again tried his luck from range, whilst Jardin could only parry the ball into the path of the on-rushing Neil Brown. Jardin got up quickly to thwart Brown’s effort.
The ever dangerous Brown had another chance towards the end of the half when Chris Sissling played him through but he could only hit it straight at Jardin.
For all the chances Lancaster had, they were dealt a sucker punch right at the end of the first half. Defender Martin Thorpe’s attempted clearance was closed down by Amar Dhesi who slid it past Kim Klevengen to give Manchester the lead.
Deserved or not, Lancaster had a job on their hands to turn the game around and cause an unlikely upset.
To their credit, the home side were straight out of the blocks in the second half. Brown, who was central to Lancaster’s attacking play all game headed inches wide after a good cross by Henrik Thorsesen.
A slip in Manchester’s defence let Brown in again, but again he hit it straight at Jardin in the Manchester goal.
It was looking like being one of those days for Lancaster, until Brown finally got the luck his persistence deserved.
Collecting the ball just inside the area, Brown evaded the challenge of the Manchester defender and made no mistake this time, smashing the ball past Jardin to make it an exciting contest.
After this goal, a wave of Lancaster attacks began raining in on Manchester. Substitute Callum Douglas gave the home side a fresh outlet down the right, putting in some dangerous crosses which Manchester scrambled away.
In the latest of a catalogue of chances, Brown was desperately unlucky not to put Lancaster ahead as he controlled a ball over the top from Will McVeigh, clipped it over the goalkeeper, but saw his effort rebound off the crossbar.
Within minutes, Lancaster finally made this pressure tell. Goalscorer turned provider as Brown fired a ball across the box for the unmarked Douglas to tap in at the back post.
It really was no more than Lancaster deserved, but this seemed to spark Manchester into life as they spurned a great chance to go level. Manchester Goalscorer Dhasi hit the bar from 30 yards, the ball rebounded to striker Tim Bennett who looked certain to score, but he was denied by a superb sprawling save from Klevengen.
With this solitary chance for the away side not taken, it looked like Lancaster might hold on for a crucial first win of the season.
But 3 minutes from time, they were pegged back by one of the most bizarre goals you will ever see. A free kick was drifted to the back post where Martin Thorpe’s headed clearance rebounded off the shoulder of Manchester centre-back Declan Gray and into the net.
There was no end to the drama and with seconds remaining, Brown played in Douglas who burst past his marker but couldn’t beat the solid Matt Jardin in the Manchester goal.
For all the entertainment, Lancaster will look back on this result with disappointment but will be encouraged by a courageous second half display.
Captain Martin Thorpe commented after the game; “It’s fair to say we battered them in the second half, we were gutted to concede a late goal like that. But we’ve still got two games left before the Christmas break and we want to get two wins from both games. If we keep playing like that, we’ll finish closer to the top of the table than the bottom”.