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Lancaster City grind out goal-less draw with Atherton Collieries

Lancaster City ground out a goal-less draw against Atherton Collieries. Photo by Phil Dawson (@PhotosbyPhilD)

Lancaster City remain both unbeaten yet winless at home this season after a third consecutive draw at the Giant Axe.

The Dollies were unable to build on their win against Gainsborough Trinity on Saturday, but could still take some positives from the bank holiday Monday Northern Premier League game, another clean sheet being the biggest one.

There was a concern that Andy Teague may not have started for the home side given his appearance on Saturday was cut short after picking up a knock, but he was in the starting 11.

With short-term loanee goalkeeper Jordan Eastham having returned to parent club Blackburn Rovers since the Gainsborough game, there was a first start of the season for Curtis Anderson, who made some good saves to keep the score at 0-0.

City’s defence put on another brilliant display – they have not conceded in four of their previous five games. Right-centre-back Calen Gallagher-Allison was once again a key part of a solid performance across the back line and was deservedly awarded Man of the Match.

Atherton Collieries’ man of the match was their ‘keeper Nico Defreitas-Hansen, who was the man responsible for ensuring the Colls kept their first clean sheet of their Northern Premier League Premier Division campaign. Defreitas-Hansen’s accolade shows that City were pushing for a winner and had a few decent chances, mainly from set pieces or aerial crosses, but just couldn’t find that finishing touch.

It was an evenly-matched affair in which neither team really had too many clear-cut chances, and with about 10 minutes to go, the game petered out.

One of the more intense moments of the game came 20 minutes into the second half when Charlie Bailey of City and Ollie Brown of Atherton were booked in the midst of a heated exchange between several players from both sides near the edge of the home team’s box.

One of the Dollies’ best chances came from substitute Edward Elewa-Ikpakwu when he struck the ball towards goal from just outside the penalty area, forcing Defreitas-Hansen into an impressive save.

Lancaster City boss Mark Fell told the club website the defensive performance was good but “we can’t keep saying that and drawing every game, otherwise we’ll be on about 40 points (at the end of the season) and probably in trouble, but we didn’t look like conceding.”

While Fell was disappointed with not being able to get all three points, he gave an understandable reason as to why he thought City couldn’t make it two wins on the bounce.

“With the fact it was two games in three days, we’ve travelled to Gainsborough and it’s taken a massive amount out of us and we just have not got the numbers to refresh that team.

“We made a change in goal with Curtis and then outfield we replaced Brad Hubbold because he was injured. The schedule is bonkers – I don’t want to moan about it but if you want to see amazing football, let’s be a bit more sensible about the schedule and the lads’ workload.

“I know it’s the same for both teams, but it plays into the hands of teams who can spend massive amounts.”

The Dollies’ gaffer, just like he did after the Gainsborough game, hinted there could be a new attacking player joining the club in the coming days.

“With Dom Lawson who’s battled through a couple of knocks, Jake Connelly who’s not fit, and Nico Evangelinos who will be a week away or maybe two, we might have to bring someone in, which we didn’t expect to have to do at this point in the year.”

Up next for City is an FA Cup Qualifying First Round tie on Saturday against fellow Northern Premier League side Stalybridge Celtic, who they lost to on August 20.

They will be hoping for a different result at Bower Fold this time round and will want to make a first step towards a successful cup run.

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