Lancaster City played host to Gainsborough Trinity at Giant Axe in what proved to be a very tight affair, resulting in a narrow 1-0 loss for the Dolly Blues.
Mark Fell’s men were looking to bounceback from a particularly difficult two weeks but it wasn’t meant to be as they succumbed to their third loss in a row on an afternoon in which the weather played a great part. The Dollies went extremely close twice in the game but they just seemed destined not to score.
The away side kicked off proceedings as we saw a change of shape employed by City with Niall Cowperthwaite and captain Simon Wills sitting in deeper positions than what we’ve seen previously.
The ball spent most of its time in the air in a first 5 minutes to forget, as both teams attempted to put their stamp on the game.
However, the deadlock was broken after only 7 minutes as Gainsborough midfielder Nicky Walker smashed the ball in to the roof of the net. Some good build up play lead to a scramble in the box that eventually resulted in the ball landing perfectly at Walker’s feet.
The Dolly Blues, as always responded extremely well, going straight back on the attack with Charlie Bailey having a shot unfortunately blocked just a minute after the goal.
Then, on the 14th minute of the game the Giant Axe crowd were left bewildered at how the ball did not end up in the back of the net. Some great work down the right eventually lead to a perfectly hit, first time cross by City number seven Rob Wilson, it was met by the head of Danny Pilkington but it crashed against the post. Charlie Bailey then had a rebound saved before Brad Carsley eventually fired it over the bar.
That turned out to be Lancaster’s biggest chance of the first half as the ball spent most of its time in the middle of the park for the next 15 minutes.
At the 32 minute mark, Rob Wilson was again causing problems for Gainsborough down the right hand side, as another cross almost resulted in an own goal for one of their defenders, he headed it behind and it just grazed the bar.
Just before half-time, goalkeeper Sam Ashton got lucky as he took a heavy touch and was almost closed down by Trinity striker Alex Wiles, he did however clear it in time and the danger was averted.
The wind was picking up a lot in the close of the first half and the Dolly Blues were playing against it. Midfielder Paul Dawson had all of the right ideas and he was attempting to pull some strings with some forward passes. They however came to nothing as the ball was consistently being pushed back. The referee blew his whistle and the two teams went into the changing rooms at 0-1.
The second half started slowly with both teams having half chances. Gainsborough winger Adebayo-Smith fired over and City defender Glenn Steel headed wide from a corner.
The game did however pick up as both teams started getting stuck in, particularly in the 53rd minute as Ahmed Salam of Gainsborough was booked for a vicious tackle on right back Sam Bailey. Some arms were flying and the late tackles were becoming more prevalent as the clock ticked on.
The visitors were clearly trying to protect their lead as the game was beginning to look like it was fizzling out. Trinity ‘keeper George Wills was warned by referee Nikolas Storey for taking his time on goal kicks and set pieces.
City looked to be down and out in the 68th and 70th minutes as opposing winger Adebayo-Smith was piling on the pressure. He went very close with one shot and had massive calls for a pen with a mazy run in behind the City defence but the referee was adamant in his decision to play on.
Both teams started to make changes just before the 80 minute mark as Ben Anderson of Lancaster replaced number nine Danny Pilkington and the visitors took Alex Wiles off for Simon Russell.
Anderson almost made a great impact as a couple of his long throws in from the right hand side met the heads of Glenn Steel and fellow substitute Josh Winder, they however both headed straight at the ‘keeper.
Just after 4 minutes of stoppage time were announced, City had another unbelievable moment. The Dolly Blues had at least 4 shots in the box after a great ball by Josh Winder split the Gainsborough defence, Brad Carsley and Ben Anderson were amongst those who had shots brilliantly saved by the opposition ‘keeper. The City support were again left scratching their heads and wondering how that ball did not end up in the back of the net.
Following that late drama was 3 minutes of running down the clock from the away side, number two Michael Williams was eventually booked for time wasting. That was just before the full time whistle was blown and the Dolly Blues had officially suffered their third loss in three weeks.
City now sit in fifth place as they cling on to their play-off place in the Northern Premier League with Whitby and Warrington ready to pounce. Mark Fell’s side will be more determined than ever to begin a resurgence and keep their promotion hopes alive by getting points back on the board.
Despite a tough few weeks for the boys, they do still have a great chance of silverware this season and that chance lies with their LFA Challenge Trophy semi-final clash with Atherton Collieries in Leyland on Tuesday night. It will be a perfect chance to gain momentum and get back on track, we hope to see you there and we have even bigger hope of a big win to turn our fortunes on their head.
Come on you Dolly Blues!
Lancaster City: Ashton, S. Bailey, Rydel, Wills (C) (Winder ’82), Steel, Cowperthwaite, Wilson, Dawson, Carsley, Pilkington (Anderson ’77), C. Bailey.
Unused substitutions: Hudson, Povey
Gainsborough Trinity: Wills, Williams, Salam, Williamson, Thornton, Walters, Walker (Bacon’ 83), James, Smith (C), Wiles (Russell’ 80), Adebayo-Smith
Unused substitutions: Stainfield, Green, Tague
Referee: Nikolas Storey
Assistants: Jack Ryan, Nalbi Sadek
Match report by Andrew Hartley