A clinical brace from front-man Josh Bew capped off a swashbuckling second-half performance on Friday, as his late equaliser ensured that York’s football firsts snatched a thoroughly-deserved draw from Lancaster in the Roses opening ceremony. UYAFC have had a brilliant season in their BUCS league, winning their division and reaching the cup final; and they went into their Roses fixture in confident mood. James Davies’ side lined up in the regular 4-2-3-1 formation that has earned them a reputation for attractive football, but Guy Bowden and Ralph Gill came in at the back for the injured Dan Jones and Tom Brandreth.
The Black & Gold were roared on by huge travelling support behind Luke Bradley’s goal, but they made the worst possible start as with just a few minutes on the clock, the defence were caught out at the back and Bradley hacked down the Lancaster forward inside the area. The Red Rose’s leading front-man Turner duly obliged to smash the ball into the bottom-left corner with a well-taken penalty to hand Lancaster the lead.
This early goal had York rattled, with the home side dominating play and looking dangerous on the attack. Things soon went from bad to worse for the White Rose, as midfield cornerstone Connor McCoy was hauled down by a poor tackle in the middle of the pitch. The offending Lancaster player should have seen red but the referee only produced a yellow card, and McCoy left the pitch to raucous applause on a stretcher. Just moments later, Josh Spurling then also went down under a poor tackle, and had to temporarily leave the field for treatment.
Following McCoy’s enforced departure, the introduction of Joe Mann in the middle of the field seemed to be a breath of fresh air for York, as they began to come into the game with more possession and direction in their play. However, they were frustrated by Lancaster, and despite enjoying more of the ball, they were struggling to make progress up the field. Nevertheless, after James Davies worked hard to force a corner for the White Rose, a good ball in from Ollie Harrison was met by the head of Jamie Trant; however, the Lancaster keeper pulled off a fine save to deny him the goal. At the other end, Bradley then had to time his run perfectly to intercept a through-ball, preventing Lancaster from doubling their lead just before half time.
Lancaster were the better side in the first half, dictating the tempo of play and looking incisive in attack. However, towards the end of the first half, York were getting more joy down the wings and certainly weren’t out of the game. The Black & Gold took inspiration from the final ten minutes of the first half, and after the restart completely seized the initiative and looked a different side. Almost immediately after play got underway again, Trant teed up a perfectly weighted ball for Davies, whose mazy run beat the Lancaster defence. His curling shot was deflected to Josh Bew, but his effort was cleared off the line by a Lancaster defender.
Spurling then had to be replaced by Joe Easter, and the midfield talisman’s introduction was pivotal for York as they looked livelier and more inspired in their play. Keeping the ball well, they put Lancaster under sustained pressure as Davies and Easter clicked in the middle of the park. This pressure eventually paid off, and York got their well-earned equaliser on 55 minutes. After some good build-up play and slick passing between Davies, Easter and Trant, a scramble ensued in the area. Josh Bew popped up to smash the ball home and equalise for York, leading to ecstatic celebrations in the away stand.
After the equalising goal, York had a surge of momentum and continued to press high up the field for another goal. However, despite dominating proceedings in the second half, Lancaster once again took the lead against the run of play. The home side exposed York’s full-backs with their pace on the wings, and managed to exploit the space after a free-kick in the middle. Lancaster player Jamie Lovett worked the channel, and slid the ball past on the onrushing Bradley to hand Lancaster an undeserved 2-1 lead.This seemed to be a sucker-punch for the Black & Gold, with less than ten minutes left on the clock. Nevertheless, despite falling behind for the second time in the match, York responded brightly and continued to press positively, as Dalton Harris came on for the hard-working Jamie Trant.
The away side were determined to get something from the game after a strong second-half performance, and just as it looked as though the opportunity had been lost, Bew cropped up yet again. Davies picked up the ball from a good challenge mid-way inside the Lancaster half, beat three Red Rose players and squared the ball perfectly for Bew, who poked the ball into the back of the net for his and York’s second goal.The equaliser led to pandemonium amongst the York supporters, as York snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat. It was apt that Josh Bew was the man who bagged a brace for the White Rose after a brilliant season leading the front line, while it was also fitting that captain James Davies led his side to a draw in his final year at the University. The result meant that the points were shared, and it was certainly the least that York deserved from the game after an outstanding second-half display.