ALL THE THRILLS and atmosphere of the phenomenal opening ceremony overawed York’s footballers as they squandered a 2-0 half-time lead to lose 2-3 in the men’s football first match to officially unveil Roses 2018.
When that third Lancaster goal went in to signal home crowd ecstasy in the 90th minute, there was an element of amazement yet unsurprise at what was unravelling in front of our eyes. It felt like it was just meant to happen – even when York were two goals in front at half-time.
After being serenaded by a choir singing Queen, the match began. York suffered an early let off after a Lancaster player unsuccessfully latched onto the end of a pedestrian back pass.
General sloppiness characterised much of the opening 20 minutes, with simple mistakes by both sets of defenders leading to chances for either side.
Jordan Grace had an unexpected test when a Lancaster cross-turned-shot looked to be going in at the near post, but for a finger-tipped save onto the crossbar. A few moments later a volley from the edge-of-the-area took a nick off Ebai Nsoatabe on its path into the side netting.
The only real chance of the opening period landed at the feet of Angus Maney who gratefully converted a loose ball from close range in the 28th minute to send the travelling contingent into a chorus of celebration. York’s lead was added to by Dom McCormick 15 minutes later after he flicked a re-directed corner into the centre of the goal.
Grace was then called into action minutes later to preserve this 2-0 cushion as he terrifically clawed away a strong header from close-range. It was yet another moment in which Lancaster’s clinicalness was absent.
Just six minutes into the second half and York should have put the game to bed. Maney had ghosted into the box unnoticed yet his unchallenged header did not even test the keeper.
From there, the game descended into a lull, but this admittedly suited York with their two-goal advantage.
A large dose of reinvigoration was provided in the 70th minute when the home side pulled a goal back through an unconventional header to give the expectant home crowd a chance to find their voices again and provide the first bookend of York’s collapse.
Sensing an equaliser and willed on by hundreds of on-looking Lancastrians, York were penned into their own half and looking increasingly nervous.
The equaliser came in the 82nd minute, a point at which nothing was off limits as a semi-nude Lancastrian made his elation known by invading the pitch and in the process auditioning for athletics as he hurdled the advertising boards.
Lancaster’s Mo Touray sent all in red into a frenzy when he burst through Ellis Thomas and Will Rennie – given man of the match five minutes prior by Nouse Sports Editor Chay Quinn – to guide the ball past an onrushing Grace. He shouldn’t have been allowed to get there first. The York defence had clocked out.
This defeat was reminiscent of last year’s Roses meeting when a 10-man Lancaster stole a 1-0 win late on and contributed to the general slide in performance for the visitors on Friday afternoon which left York several points behind Lancaster.