ROSES 2014: UYHC Men’s 1sts in last-gasp defeat

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UYHC Men’s 1sts were beaten 5-4 in Roses 2014, as hosts Lancaster scored a penalty flick at the death to steal victory. The visitors, who were ahead at half-time, were under the cosh for much of the second half and at one point trailed 4-2, but the loss was still cruel on Phil Blackburn’s side, who had played excellent hockey at times.

In the end, two goals apiece for Phil Ratliff and Hugo Christie were not enough, as Lancaster’s late penalty, awarded for an interference by Jimmy Johnson, capped off a victory for the Red Rose.

The visitors started brightly in the first-half, with Leo Watton pulling the strings in attack. A fine bit of play saw the ball fall to forward Phil Ratliff in the D, and he needed no invitation to sweep the ball into the goal to give the White Rose a 1-0 lead.

Their advantage did not last long, though, as the hosts equalised with a sharp counter-attack to bring the game level. The game opened up for York after this point, with York playing some fine flowing hockey. Superb build-up involving Watton and Ratliff saw Christie, who was impressive in the 8-4 indoor victory on Friday, with the chance to shoot, but he arrowed his shot wide from distance.

Lancaster were growing back into the game, but were well-marshalled by the York defence, with Alex Bond solid as ever at full-back. In attack, Nish Selvakumar and Chris Daniel strung together an impressive passage of play, and soon after Ratliff doubled his tally with a swift finish, giving York the lead again.

Callum Chaundy, who was man-of-the-match in yesterday’s indoor game, was having another good game in goal. The ‘keeper thwarted Lancaster time and again in the first half as York ended the first half firmly on top.

There was some half-time Roses spectacle in the form of some inebriated spectators rolling across the pitch in a humorous manner, but the match returned to business in the second half. The resumption of play saw the home side predictably come flying out of the traps. Their attacking intent was impressive, and they earned themselves a short corner, from which they found their second equaliser of the match, lifting the ball into the goal past Chaundy with aplomb.

Lancaster were in full stride now, and a succession of short corners soon gave them the lead – with a man affectionately named “Suitcase” by his peers.

Their seemingly endless run of corners continued, and a fourth goal came soon after for the home side as “Suitcase” slotted home.

York needed to rediscover their earlier rhythm, and they enjoyed their first lengthy spell on the ball for some time. The White Rose won a short corner of their own, and the well-drilled visitors found the back of the net with Hugo Christie blazing the ball into the back of the net.

Roared on by the rest of the hockey club, York needed just one more goal as the clock ticked down. Again, Christie was the target in the D, and he fizzed a brilliant effort just wide of the upright. The White Rose did eventually equalise through Christie to bring the scores to 4-4. The away fans celebrated as if they’d found a winner, but their joy was agonisingly short-lived.

After Chaundy again kept York level after another blistering Lancaster attack, the game’s crucial moment came in the final minutes, as a foul in the area with Lancaster clean through on goal left the referee no choice but to point to the spot.

Chaundy was the last line of defence in the York goal, but the Lancaster player made no mistake, flicking the ball high and just out of reach of the stretching ‘keeper.

The referee blew the final whistle seconds later to bring the curtain down on a nail-biting see-saw of a match. There was heartbreak for York 1sts, but on reflection the result did not seem unfair given Lancaster’s performance in the second half.