Picture by Daniel Golton
UYAFC 1sts put in a dogged performance against a physical Lancaster side to draw 0-0 and share the 4 Roses points on offer. Having only picked up a solitary draw since a whitewash in 2011, a 2-2 result in last year’s opening ceremony, York showed good resilience to match that performance and contribute 2 points towards York’s push for the Roses title.
Within the first minute of the game Lancaster signalled their intentions with their central midfielder flying in two-footed on Connor McCoy. Big challenges were a common occurrence throughout a game that will almost certainly not be remembered for its flowing football. Over the course of the game Lancaster committed a mammoth 18 fouls, double the number of their York counterparts, with each team getting away with a mere yellow card each.
To their credit the men in black and gold were trying to keep the ball on the ground and play some nice football but Lancaster’s bullying tactics were nevertheless effective in stifling York’s dangerous front three.
Within the opening 15 minutes or so York were awarded several free kicks in promising positions but their delivery left much to be desired. A couple were hit long, possibly a symptom of playing on the 3G, a much larger pitch, all season.
Despite York displaying most attacking endeavour it was Lancaster who had the first clear-cut opportunity. A lofted ball over the top found their number 9 who was played onside by Bowden at right back, he raced through on goal but Bowden somehow managed to recover and get in a goal-saving block.
It was Connor McCoy who found York’s first clear opening of the day after the ball fell for him 20 yards out, however his drive flew wide.
As half time approached it was still York who were attempting to play the better football and Josh Bew fashioned a chance for himself on the edge of the box, his effort was weak and straight at the ‘keeper.
York’s pressure was starting to tell and the chances were coming. A long throw launched into the box caused momentary confusion for Lancaster’s defence and it took a smart stop from their goalkeeper to deny York the opener.
Among the chances the tackles were still flying in and York skipper Dave Belshaw was flattened by the Lancaster number 9, with the referee showing questionable leniency to not delve into his pocket and produce the game’s first booking.
Just before the half time whistle it was again York who were taking the initiative, with Garo Heath getting his first proper chance to stretch his legs on the left wing, his mazy run being stopped in its tracks by a solid challenge.
The referee finally decided to hand out the game’s first booking in the first few minutes of the second half. Surprisingly enough it was York’s Chris Osborne who was the receiving party, his high boot ruled dangerous.
Garo Heath then showed a few glimpses of his electric pace and silky touch with a solo run culminating in a shot over the bar. However, the game was not suited to Heath, with the physicality of Lancaster preventing him any space over on the left and he was withdrawn soon after, with Jamie Trant replacing him.
Trant almost made an instant impact, having a close-range chance blocked after Eddie Fotheringham’s whipped delivery.
A further change came soon after with Joe Easter entering the fray in place of Connor McCoy in the centre of the park.
It was Lancaster who then threatened, with a near post cross being met on the half-volley which flew narrowly wide of the post.
Easter’s introduction gave York some much needed attacking impetus through the middle and it was he who caused the referee to finally caution a Lancaster man, being cynically hacked down after a dangerous foray forward.
With the clocking ticking down into the last few minutes it was Lancaster who finished the stronger, with Andy Balzan being forced into his first meaningful save of the game, smartly diving across his line to tip an effort wide.
It was a match which both teams will feel they could have won, with York looking like the better footballing side and Lancaster looking ominous on the break.