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Hundreds gathered pitch-side to watch Lancaster overcome York in the men’s 1st team football, one of the most widely anticipated events of Roses 2016. In a tightly contested game, with few chances, a single goal was enough to secure the win for the home side.
Having already seen the men’s 2nd team take victory earlier in the day, the pressure was on for the side in red. As if the chance for Roses glory wasn’t enough, revenge was an added incentive for the Lancaster players, with them having been knocked out by York in the BUCS cup earlier in the season. Lancaster set a fierce tone for the game early on with a series of crunching challenges. Late sliding tackles and players almost coming to blows within the first five minutes were a sign that both teams were pumped for the occasion and it got the crowd excited.
Both sides finished 5th in their respective leagues this season and going into the game there seemed little to separate the two sides. So it proved in the first half hour as neither team could gain a significant foothold in the game. After the furious first minutes, the tempo of the game dropped off significantly and there was little else to excite the crowd. Early chances were limited to a couple of long range efforts for York, never really threatening the keeper.
A physical York side contained Lancaster well and restricted the home side to mostly long balls aimed towards top scorer Harry Heptonstall. Their biggest threat came from set pieces so it was no surprise that it was a Lancaster corner which eventually broke the deadlock. Captain Ben Finch rose highest to meet the in-swinging corner. A slightly scrappy goal but take nothing away from Finch who rose well above the defender to head it in at the back post. It was a real captain’s goal and his reaction said it all as he celebrated by sliding to his knees in front of a section of the York support. It was the perfect response to a number of supporters who had been antagonizing the central defender following his collision with a York player earlier in the game. It was a display of passion and summed up how much the rivalry of Roses means to players and spectators alike.
After going ahead, Lancaster looked much the better team. They capitalised on their lead, settled into their football and created a couple of decent chances towards the end of the first half. Their biggest threat came from the wings and crosses into the box caused trouble for the York defence. With gathering dark clouds as half time came, the crowd could only hope the rain stayed away and the game improved. Thankfully, both did.
Lancaster, having only lost 1 of the last 9 Roses meetings in men’s 1st-team football looked good to continue their strong record for most of the second half. With York searching for an equalizer, they may have been inspired by the fact that the last two Roses meetings in this fixture have ended in a draw. However, they will be disappointed with their performance as they rarely troubled a solid Lancaster defence and were outplayed in the second half.
Lancaster asserted their dominance and created a number of chances, the best falling to midfielder Joe Devaney who’s brilliant strike was saved by the keeper. They continued to pile on the pressure, looking for a second goal. A curling effort from Barnett was tipped over by the keeper and the resulting corner led to a header flashing just wide.
York’s frustration grew and resulted in four yellow cards, one of which awarded to a player who had been on the field less than a minute. Lancaster looked very comfortable and thwarted any attempt by York to string passes together. In fact, they were so comfortable that it led to a lapse in focus late on and very easily could have allowed York an undeserved equaliser. The game burst into life in the closing moments when out of nowhere a brilliant curling effort from York struck the crossbar. It was against the run of play, but York were inches off stealing points. This spurred Lancaster back into action and a swift counter-attacking move led to substitute Andy Gamble seeing his one-on-one with the keeper roll just wide. This was to be the very last action of the game and the ref’s full time whistle was meant with cheers and celebration. It was a strong performance and well deserved victory.