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Injury-hit Lancaster City knocked out of FA Cup

City in action during the first game against Bury. The Dollies were defeated in the replay last night. Photo by Phil Dawson (@PhotosbyPhilD)

Lancaster City’s FA Cup campaign is over after an entertaining second qualifying round replay against Bury AFC ended in defeat.

Despite City being two leagues above Bury, it was never going to be an easy game for the Dolly Blues – all four of their centre backs were out with injuries and they were made to, as manager Mark Fell has phrased it regularly over recent weeks, "put square pegs in round holes".

City opened the scoring at at the Neuven Stadium through Enock Likoy before they found themselves behind thanks to two goals within five minutes for the home side.

The Dollies equalised before the break after Dom Lawson’s effort from a set piece was turned in. However, The Shakers took the lead again 20 minutes into the second half through Lewis Gilboy, and that man continued to cause trouble as he extended their lead to 4-2, leaving City with a mountain to climb.

Although Nico Evangelinos pulled one back for the away side, Bury made sure of their victory when Anton Smith scored heading into stoppage time.

City made a great start to proceedings within the first five minutes. David Norris’ effort just grazed the bar only moments before Enock Likoy made it 1-0 from a corner.

After a couple of decent chances at either end, the game was turned on its head over a period of just a few minutes.

Bury equalised through Connor Comber. Anton Smith came on for the home side, and not long afterwards, was tripped in the box, leading the referee to point to the penalty spot.

The club’s number nine, Ben Wharton converted the penalty kick.

One of the Dollies’ brightest players this season Dom Lawson levelled the scoring just before the break with a rebounded effort which Shakers ‘keeper Jack Atkinson couldn’t get to.

Lancaster did start the second period with one or two solid efforts in the first 10 minutes but Bury soon found some rhythm to their play and they really started to apply pressure. Anton Smith’s effort was deflected wide of goal before an unsuccessful attempt at goal from Ben Wharton.

The Shakers did, however, retake the lead close to the halfway stage of the second half.

Lewis Gilboy, the man who scored against City in the initial tie on Saturday was amongst the goals again to make it 3-2 after he got on the end of a wonderful cross, courtesy of Connor Comber. And he wasn’t done there: 12 minutes later, he doubled Bury’s lead, this time assisted by Anton Smith.

The home side would’ve had a fifth sooner, had Comber been a bit more fortunate with his attempted chip.

City pulled a goal back through Nico Evangelinos from close range, but the game was wrapped up when Anton Smith slotted the ball into an open net.

Dollies’ boss Fell spoke to the club website after the match and cited recent injury problems in his squad as a key reason for their exit from the FA Cup.

“I can’t put a team out at the moment," he said.

“People will say ‘there’s excuses coming out’ but we had no centre halves tonight, we had a full back and a central midfield player at centre half. That centre midfield player is injured, Noz (David Norris) is injured and he shouldn’t have played, Nico Evangelinos is injured and he shouldn’t have played.

“I look to my bench: Brad Carroll is on there as a token gesture, I very nearly used him but had to say to myself ‘don’t be so ridiculous to risk him again’. Jake Connelly is not fit, he’s only got 10 or 15 minutes in and he’s got a hernia. I’m looking round, thinking ‘how can I change this with what we’ve got?’ I can’t.”

On the result itself, Fell said admitted he was “heartbroken” and that “basic errors” cost his side, describing the defending for the three goals they conceded in the second half as “appalling”.

“I am absolutely devastated – it means everything to me. Maybe I just need to reassure myself that it means everything to everyone else at the same time.”

Fell did, however, praise the goal scorers for their efforts. “We wanted to have all three of them on the pitch to try and impact the game for us and score the goals - they’ve done their bit, we just can’t defend like we have done."

Lancaster City will now look ahead to their next league game, away versus Matlock Town on Saturday afternoon.

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