Water Polo: Lancaster City claim British title after seeing off Cheltenham and Manchester

Aaron Mason (in the blue hat) defending against Cheltenham.
Aaron Mason (in the blue hat) defending against Cheltenham.

Lancaster City men’s water polo team were crowned British champions at the weekend, beating hosts Cheltenham in the final after first seeing off Manchester.

Due to other commitments the side were without four keys players in Alex Parsonage, Graham Harrington, Stefano Cossuti and Dan Armstrong so only had one substitute.

Lancaster started the first quarter well with some excellent play, allowing goals from Glen Robinson, Ryan Pinington and captain Tom Curwen with Manchester only managing one in reply.

The second and third quarters were tight affairs with Manchester winning each by three goals to two, making the side level going into the last.

Some excellent defending by Zak Lamb and Alex Armstrong kept Lancaster in the game with Marc Robinson between the sticks playing excellently.

Fine goals by Rob Simpson and Aaron Mason kept City in touch with Manchester and a clever pit goal by Robinson three minutes from time made the score 10-10 at the final whistle, meaning the game would be decided on penalties.

Both teams scored three of their first five with Robinson making two great saves, putting the game into sudden death.

Manchester missed their next penalty, allowing Curwen to comfortably put his away and send City into Sunday’s final.

Lancaster would play Cheltenham and knew this would be a hard task in front of a very one sided and loud home crowd of around 400 people.

With the returning Parsonage and Harrington, City were confident.

The game started quickly for City with great play by Glen Robinson and Parsonage, scoring two goals inside the first minute to stun the home crowd.

Cheltenham brought the game back to two each before Robinson had his second of the game. The second quarter was tight with both sides going goal for goal, Robinson was too strong for the Cheltenham defence to handle, bringing his tally to four and City a 5-4 half time lead.

In the third quarter Harrington and Parsonage put two long range efforts in and City opened up a two goal cushion.

Four goals by the home side and two by City, one a great lob by Pinington, took the score to 8-9 going into the last quarter.

City, with some solid defence and quick countering by Lamb and Mason, created space which allowed Lancaster to score three on the bounce and go four goals up.

Cheltenham staged a mini comeback but City held on to win 12-11 and take the title.