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The Lancaster University Men’s Hockey Club (LUMHC) 2nds overcame the challenge of the University of Liverpool’s 3rd team on Wednesday the 13th of November in a game they dominated from start to finish. Going in to the game on the back of two losses and a postponed match in all competitions, the side were looking for a change in fortune to kick-start their season – though their eventual 4-0 victory was down to much more than luck.
From the very beginning, the Lancaster side asserted itself upon the game, applying immense pressure to the opposition. Whilst clear-cut chances were few and far between, the 2nds maintained possession in their opponent’s half for long periods and were able to keep the Liverpool side at arm’s length whenever it seemed they may have a chance of breaking.
One of the first chances of the match fell to the home side, though Gareth Case’s powerful strike which was saved well by the opponent’s goalkeeper. Following this opportunity, the Liverpool team broke forward, though Lancaster’s own goalkeeper, David Callaghan, was alert to the danger and rushed from his area to divert the ball well clear of goal.
The breakthrough came for Lancaster after a series of short corners, with the final one resulting in an opener scored by the team’s left back and captain, Alex Harding, who was quickest to react after the goalkeeper had saved from a Calum Boothroyd attempt which was deflected towards goal by Carlos Costa.
Going in to the break a goal ahead no doubt spurred on the Lancaster team and their confidence was borne out in their second half performance. Continuing the intensity of their first thirty five minutes’ play, the side pushed on and forced a series of short corners, whilst creating chances from open play too.
Ten minutes in to the second period Alex Tam, a halftime substitute, got his name on the score sheet, following up after the ball broke from a cross the Liverpool defence failed to deal with. The 2nds dominance continued and Costa capped another fine move, finishing via a cross from the left hand side taking Lancaster into an emphatic 3-0 lead. The advantage was was very nearly added to almost straight from the push-back when Andy Cooling’s cross fell just behind Will Crack, who’d seen another chance go awry minutes earlier after he was closed down by the Liverpool defence.
Despite the result being beyond doubt, the Lancaster side were unrelenting in their determination to add to their tally. Cooling was once again involved, firing a shot wide on the turn, before one of Liverpool’s defenders was sin-binned for dissent, clearly disgruntled by his team’s below-par performance.
In the final few minutes of the game Costa secured himself a brace, making the score line 4-0 to the home-side; before the figure almost became five but for a fine save from the Liverpool goalkeeper, as the ball seemed destined for the top corner of the goal.
Overall the Lancaster side can look back upon the match extremely positively, as they not only secured a deserved win but, in the process, exhibited attacking flair combined with a tenacious defensive performance that will stand them in good stead in future BUCS fixtures. After the game, Harding reflected on the early season loss in the cup to local rivals the University of Cumbria, as well as the improvement against Liverpool, stating, “The entire squad was bitterly disappointed by our performance against UCum last time out, we all had a point to prove. We showed our capabilities today, now it is time to keep improving”.
The 2nds victory followed a strong performance earlier in the day from the LUMHC 1st team, who ran out 3-1 winners against the University of Manchester’s 2nd XI. Joe Purvis and Oliver Koopman, with an impressive flick in to the top corner of the goal following a short corner, were on target for the Lancaster side, with an own goal capping off the win, as they extended their unbeaten start in BUCS fixtures this season. The side will be hoping to push on after last season’s second place finish in the Northern 2A division, and following a run which has seen them score twenty four goals in four matches – they look well equipped to do so.
The university’s 3rd team have also started the league season well, with three wins in their opening three matches. However, they were unable to build on this in their match against the University of Bolton’s 1sts, with Dexter Williamson scoring a consolation goal, following a goalmouth scramble, in a 6-1 away defeat. Despite this, the team remain well placed in the Northern 6A division going in to December and will be looking push on for honours in 2014.