On a day that saw a Keele side arrive more than 30 minutes late, it seems that the only way Lancaster would have been able to win is if the opposition didn’t arrive at all. Coming off the back of a 5-0 victory against Liverpool’s Second team, Lancaster were going into the upcoming bout with great confidence against a Keele side which had won six of their last seven matches.
First blood was granted to Lancaster as they took the first game with an unconvincing three-set win over Keele’s 5th seed, through Phil Lowrey. Lowrey won the first set 11-5, before scrapping his way to 11-7 wins in the next two sets to wrap up the 3-0 win.
The 4th seed game saw Joe Reeds lose 3-1, in a game that admittedly he could have played much better. In all four sets the two competitors seemed equally matched; Reeds displayed a series of great shots and took control of a number of high-quality rallies yet it was to no prevail as his opponent soon took the reins on a game which, whilst showing signs of promise for Lancaster, overwhelmingly illustrated the slight superiority of the visiting side on the day. At 1-1 the match was finely poised.
Lancaster’s 3rd seed, Nick Costa, whilst having a great command of the T lost all 3 of his games. The first, of which he seemed to be en route to a victory after fighting back from 6-2, yet failed to maintain the momentum and eventually lost 11-7. The second set in this game gave further woe to Lancaster’s hopes of securing a victory as Costa was unable to get into a good rhythm with his drives thus granting the visitors an 11-4 victory in the second set. A glimmer of hope emerged for the home side when Costa appeared to find his form again, seeing him just two points from the set victory for long periods of the third set. However, it seemed luck was against the home side as the Keele man miraculously fought back from 9-5 to win 11-9 and completely demoralise Lancaster.
Dave McGovern, (Lancaster’s 2nd seed), took on a competitor that I appeared to be manufactured solely to play squash. The Keele man, Tom Allman gave no more than five points away in all 3 sets. A very strong performance, from the terminator of squash, frustrated McGovern into giving away needless points through various ill placed shots. The apparent machine-like nature of the Keele player afforded no real opportunities to McGovern, seeing Lancaster slump to defeat with the overall match score at 3-1, with just the first seeds left to play.
Captain Ben Holden took on a strong 1st seed competitor from Keele, Ashley Stanton. The match was evenly fought with little separating the two competitors. Holden displayed a great series of unorthodox drop shots in the first and third points which set Lancaster up nicely to pick up the first set. Yet this would have been little more than a consolation victory as the visiting side had maintained a powerful performance, winning three of the four games so far. Sadly such promise turned to anguish as Holden was unable to quell the fires of defeat as he lost out 3-2 seeing Lancaster slump to a 4-1 loss overall.
I believe on a different day with the same performance, Lancaster would have been able to produce a different result. A performance that their Captain Ben Holden credited his team for as he claimed that “the lads did the best they could and I couldn’t have asked for more, we were up against a strong Keele side today”.