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Lancaster City defeated by league leaders South Shields

Sam Bailey in action for Lancaster City against South Shields. Photo by Kev Wilson Photography.

Lancaster City were beaten 2-0 away to top of the league South Shields but put in a valiant effort.

The Dollies held firm defensively for large parts of the game and, due to injuries, were forced to bring on their substitute goalkeeper to play outfield for the final 20 minutes of the game.

New signing Nathan Woodthorpe was not in the squad as the EFL have not fully approved his move from Crewe Alexandra yet.

Both goals came in the second half – a header from the Mariners’ top scorer Darius Osei and an impressive strike from Robert Briggs gave them the three points.

Lancaster’s resolute defending forced South Shields into having to shoot from outside the box. Sam Waller had little to do in the first half and watched most of the home team’s shots go wide or over.

Former Morecambe forward Lewis Alessandra’s shot went just over after he worked some magic with his feet. He had an opportunity to put his team ahead but dragged his effort wide.

Last week’s match winner for Lancaster, David Norris, had the visitors’ best chance of the game – his shot went over the crossbar though. Brad Carsley was clear through on goal towards the end of the first 45 but Gary Liddle tracked back and made a great tackle to deny him from scoring into an empty net.

The Lancaster defenders and goalkeeper were just as alert in the first 15 minutes of the second half as they were before the break. Shields had three chances in quick succession around the hour mark – Mackenzie Heavey’s effort was blocked by Ed Ikpakwu, and Sam Waller reacted quickly and got down low to stop Tom Broadbent’s long range drive.

But the City defence were powerless to stop South Shields’ opener on 60 minutes. Martin Smith’s deft cross found Darius Osei who nodded the ball in via the underside of the crossbar.

In between the first and second goal, Lancaster made their three substitutions, two of them enforced.

Due to a number of Dollies’ players being injured or suspended, Lancaster could only name three substitutes and one of them was goalkeeper Curtis Anderson, who hadn’t played since September.

Nic Evangelinos gave way for Paul Jarvis in a tactical switch, but Christian Sloan and Brad Carroll both picked up injuries which meant youngster Jenson Butterworth, making his debut for the club, and Anderson had to come on in their places.

Forward Carsley was moved to defence and Anderson played as a striker alongside Dom Lawson.

Robert Briggs got the Mariners’ second when his curled effort found the far corner of the net.

It could have been three for Kevin Phillips’ side but Waller brilliantly kept out Blair Adams’ powerful effort with his fingertips.

Lancaster City manager Mark Fell told the media after the game that despite the loss he was “really really proud” of his side for “our endeavour, our heart and our ability to have a structure and to stay in it with what we’ve put out there today”.

He later said he didn’t have “a single negative thing to say about the lads’ performance".

Fell remarked that the overall situation at the club, in particularly referring to transfers, squad depth and injuries, “is so unbelievably hard at the moment”.

The injuries to Christian Sloan and the Player of the Month for the last two months Brad Carroll, who is likely to be out for “weeks and weeks” will not be welcome news at all to Fell and his staff.

Lancaster City’s next game is another away trip to Warrington Town on Tuesday night (February 7).

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