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Lancaster firsts now see themselves with a three point lead at the top of the Northern 2A division after clinching a win during a close encounter against rivals UCLAN firsts. The 9-8 victory reflects a match that was close fought throughout and was only decided in the last couple of matches to raise hopes of Lancaster promotion to the top tier. Having found themselves on the losing side of the same scoreline earlier in the season, Lancaster sought out retribution against one of their closest challengers in the division, fortunately coming away with victory on this occasion.
From the offset it was difficult to tell in who’s favour the game was likely to swing; both teams clearly giving their all and providing a nail-biting finish. Around the half way point in the fixture, the scoreline reached 4-4 when tensions started to grow on both sides. One of UCLAN’s players clearly became nervous and made numerous errors as Ding Fang Zhen took advantage to win the tight singles match 3-1. With numerous matches taking place at once, it was difficult to keep track of the constantly changing scoreline. As soon as a Lancaster player claimed victory, UCLAN seemed to pull it back to even the scoreline.
One thing that was consistent however, was the superb all-round play of Alex Tyson winning each of his four matches, in particular shining during his last match-a 3-1 win against one of UCLAN’s obviously most talented players. Although his dependable performances may have seemed to ease the nerves somewhat, only a couple of victories to one side or the other would have affected who became the overall victors.
With only one more game to play after, Rowan Campbell’s final match was set up with the possibility of a Lancaster victory were he to win the encounter. After going 2-0 down it looked inevitable that UCLAN would draw level to 8-8 with one game to go which would thus be the decider. Somehow however, excellent play by Campbell turned the scoreline around completely and a Lancaster victory was ultimately claimed as he clawed it back and won 3-2.
This took the overall scoreline to 9-7 and with one match left victory was assured, despite defeat in the final match Lancaster still emerged as 9-8 winners. Time restraints stopped another scheduled match from happening which might have allowed for Xiao Collins to stretch victory further, but with victory already secured this couldn’t stop Lancaster taking all three available points.
The two teams were clearly of a similar ability, making for a tense encounter and immensely important league points against the team who had previously sat second behind Lancaster.
After seven league matches, Lancaster sit on the top of the pile having won all their matches except for the season’s opening fixture, the reverse tie against UCLAN. This equally tight victory however was, to use the football cliché, something of a six-pointer in the division.
Now in second place in the Northern 2A division, having overtaken UCLAN firsts are York firsts, after an impressive 13-4 win against Lancaster seconds who remain in fourth. They have however outperformed themselves since last year when they tallied fewer wins than they have already achieved this time around.
Having won all of their matches, much praise must be placed upon the shoulders of Alex Tyson and Xiao Collins, lifting Lancaster firsts to a victory that was nevertheless a hard fought team performance.
The tie with UCLAN was considered in the run up to the match as of great importance in deciding who would win the league this season. The Lancaster firsts victory lifts them to pole position and they will hope for repeat performances to maintain their league standing for the rest of the year.