MATCH REPORT: Morpeth Town 3, City 2

Heartbreak at Morpeth as Dollies fall to controversial defeat

Lancaster City returned from a tough looking away trip to Morpeth empty handed on a night of high
drama at Craik Park. Mark Fell named an unchanged side to face the much fancied North East side, who caused an upset on the first day of the season defeating pre-season title favourites Warrington.

In front of a large, vocal home support, the Dollies established themselves into the game quickly,
indeed with just 9 minutes on the clock a corner was kept alive by Glenn Steel who found Niall
Cowperthwaite on the edge of the area, the quick thinking midfielder chested into the path of David
Norris who made no mistake in slipping the ball past goalkeeper Dan Lowson to give City the lead.
The goal gave the visitors additional impetus, with another half chance for Norris being saved by
Lowson, then came the first of several topical moment in the tie, a cross from Rob Wilson clearly
striking the Kris Thackray’s wrist which had moved to the ball, then his forearm, preventing it from
reaching the unmarked Brad Carsley. The referee, just 10 yards away, waved play on.

Matt Blinkhorn was next to manufacture a chance for the Dollies, his teasing cross on 26 minutes
just inches from finding strike partner Carsley as City controlled large spells of the play and were
successful with a high press that retained them the ball in profitable areas.

With 10 minutes to go in the half Morpeth were back in it, Paul Dawson adjudged to have fouled
Wayne Phillips in the area, clear cut? No, but you see them given. Joe Walton stepped up from 12
yards to level the game. At the other end Norris again was in behind but his shot well marshalled by
Lowson and the Dollies went into the break without the reward for their superiority in terms of
performance.

If anyone left Craik Park at half time they missed a thriller, initially a game of football chess as the
two sides, both well organised, structured and playing some nice football, were countered by solid
defensive work that left chances at a premium. But on 55 minutes City carved out one of their best
chances of the game, Carlsey this time the provider with Blinkhorn a yard away from getting a toe-
end on the cross.

The hour mark brought the home side their two best chances of the game so far, initially Jack Foalle forced wide by Sam Ashton and missing the target, then Stehpen Forster producing a wonderful save from Ashton, matched by a goal line block from Glenn Steel. Suddenly the game was alive and both teams countering meant that the spaces opened up and the crowd sensed either side could grab a winner. And it looked like it was City, with 5 minutes remaining on the clock a Jack Armer cross wriggled under Lowson and trickled into the net.

But this wasn’t to be City’s night, 3 minutes later Liam Henderson latched onto a hooked ball over
the top, appeals for offside waved away (it looked very close!) and despite Ashton saving the initial
effort, the rebound was converted for 2-2.

And the drama didn’t end there, 91 minutes on the clock the next and ultimately final piece of
drama and controversy of the night, Ben Harmison winning a header for Morpeth and the flick on
landing in the path of Henderson, Glenn Steel made the challenge and the referee, from 30 yards
away pointed to the spot. Unfortunately for City, camera angles after the game show the contact to
be outside of the 18 yard box, and show Steel getting to the ball. Despite the protests Walton
stepped up to take on Ashton again, this time the City number 1 saved the initial kick only to watch
in despair at Walton tucked in the rebound sparking jubilant scenes from the 800+ crowd.

A gut wrenching ending for the City players who were magnificent on the night and are showing
early indications of what an exciting season it could be for the Dollies, no points on the night but
much to take away from the game.