Saturday at Roses: Open Outdoor Hockey

George Howarth covers Outdoor Hockey at Roses

The last time I watched hockey was at the London 2012 Olympics, but the atmosphere at this Open 1s outdoor match was actually far more impressive. As a game that seems to exist solely in universities, there was much more to fight for at Roses.

After a 3-1 York victory in the Women’s 2s immediately before, the crowd was divided along university lines, but apparently not as rowdy as previous years. With no goals in this fixture for York since 2019, the pressure on York’s team to deliver was higher than ever.

The game started slowly, with no fewer than five short corners being awarded to Lancaster in quick succession, first for a deliberate foul by York but then for a variety of reasons including a raised ball. This lasted a while and prompted murmurs of discontent in the crowd, with the Lancaster side hopeful for an early goal each time. When the ball went off, a long corner was awarded instead which York were able to clear the ball and free up play.

Frustrations with the umpire grew, with one York player sent for a timeout by a green card for dissent.

Lancaster seemed to be dominating play for much of the game, with much of the action happening close to York’s goal. A quick flick turned into a goal 20 minutes into the match, taking the score to 1-0 to Lancaster. The crowd erupted in hope that their success would be reflected in the score at the end of the match.

As play resumed, the Lancaster defenders drove the ball up the wings several times, and the team were able to shoot repeatedly, although none of these turned into goals. York were able to make some attacks, albeit fewer than their opponents, with good teamwork from their defenders but also a few green cards for putting their hands on the backs of some Lancaster players.

Despite the tension between players and the umpire, in the words of one of the commentators, it was becoming a “very boring game”

Shortly after the half-time break, Lancaster quickly scored a second goal, putting them two points ahead. As the match progressed with a spot of time-wasting from Lancaster, it looked like Lancaster’s clean sheet record was going to continue.

As the York’s fans were starting to give up, in the final five minutes a spectacular sprint up the pitch turned into a goal for Toby Carter. A taste of vengeance was there for York as they were 2-1 down.

In the final moments of the game, York were awarded another short corner, shortly followed by the final whistle. This meant that the short corner could be played, but that was the only opportunity for York to equalise.

Alf Entwistle took the shot… and scored, showing Lancaster that they couldn’t take York Open 1s for granted. The crowd spilled onto the pitch in happiness, with chants from both sides as the scoreboard flicked over to 2-2.

After the game, York player Harry Pike said it was an “unbelievable ending, I think the boys deserved it at the end of the day”. He explained that lots of the team would be graduating this year. “I think for a lot of us that’s our last game for York”.

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