Lancaster City Swimming and Water Polo Club are hoping for a bumper home crowd after narrowly missing out on a 13th British Water Polo League title.
The city side host their British Championships weekend this Sunday, February 1, at Salt Ayre Sports Centre on the back of loosing a dramatic winner-takes-all clash with Cheltenham in Guildford at the weekend.
Zak Sly’s men knew two wins out of two in the final weekend of Super 5s action in Surrey would see them victorious.
They set up the decisive meeting with Cheltenham with a 10-7 win over City of Manchester on Saturday, Tom Curwen scoring four goals and Alex Parsonage three, but fell 14-13 to the eventual champions 24 hours later.
The first quarter went back and forth, Roger Kennedy opening the scoring with a backhand which slotted right above the goalkeeper’s head but it didn’t take long for Cheltenham to hit back and equalise.
This set a pattern as Curwen put Lancaster ahead only for Cheltenham to level things up.
Cheltenham then went ahead for the first time before doubling their advantage before Curwen and Parsonage ensured the opening quarter ended level at 4-4.
The match continued in the same vein with nothing to separate the sides, Parsonage and Curwen keeping Lancaster in touch.
The city side suffered a major blow however when London 2012 Olympian Glen Robinson was excluded from the game as Cheltenham ended the half 9-7 to the good.
Decland Ellwood was on the scoresheet for Lancaster in the third period but Cheltenham increased their advantage to 12-9 despite a fine penalty save from Marc Robinson.
Lancaster weren’t done however and fought back in the final quarter, early goals from Graham Harrington and Parsonage ensuring they kept themselves in touch.
Cheltenham hit back to restore their two-goal advantage before Curwen, who finished the season as the highest scorer in the Super 5s with 33, and Harrington levelled things up at 13-13 to set up a dramatic finish.
The scores were level with two minutes to play but a draw wasn’t going to be enough for Lancaster who pushed in search of a winner.
Cheltenham survived and struck at the other end to be crowned BWPL champions in what was a fitting finale to the season.
This Sunday the British Championships action at Salt Ayre starts at noon.
The nine-time champions are hoping for a big home crowd with entry priced £2 for adults and £1 for children.