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Lancaster City pick up six points over Easter with wins over Guiseley and Bamber Bridge

Lancaster players, staff, sponsors and fans celebrating Monday's win v Bamber Bridge. Image by Michael Porter.

Lancaster City picked up maximum points over the Easter weekend - winning away at Guiseley and beating rivals Bamber Bridge.

Both games ended 3-2 in the Dolly Blues’ favour.

Those results move Lancaster up to ninth in the NPL Premier Division, five points outside the playoff places with three fixtures remaining, though teams around them do have games in hand. 

Easter Monday’s game versus Bamber Bridge, the penultimate home fixture of the season for Lancaster, was a chance to end a bad run of form against their Lancashire rivals, and they did just that.

The victory gave the Dolly Blues their first win against ‘Brig’ in all competitions since January 2017.

A Dom Lawson brace and a Jake Connelly strike gave the Dolly Blues the win.

The first 15 minutes featured hardly any chances of note and were more memorable for some fantastic defensive work by the likes of Ed Ikpakwu and Charlie Barnes.

The quick turnaround from a Saturday game to a Monday game is a challenge for any player but especially one who is only just returning from injury - Charlie Bailey was substituted off on the 14th minute, struggling with fatigue.

He was replaced by Blackpool loanee Tyler Hill, who went on to have another top performance.

The game burst into life on the 20 minute mark.

Jake Connelly got his sixth of the season and second in as many games.

Sam Bailey searched for a cross down the right hand side and saw Connelly’s energetic run through the middle into a goalscoring position.

The skipper picked him out and the forward emphatically opened the scoring with the outside of his boot.

Eight minutes later, City’s lead was doubled. 

Danny Forbes’ back-pass under pressure to James Pradic in the Bamber Bridge goal was under-hit and Dom Lawson pounced. 

He dashed into the box before rounding Pradic and calmly walked the ball into the net in front of the home support.

After being kept in their own half for the vast majority of the previous 15 minutes, the visitors started to attack more after the second goal.

Jack Baxter tried a curling effort from just inside the box, which would’ve crept into the near bottom corner had Tom Stewart not parried it away.

A minute later, the lead was halved. 

Harry Scarborough got a 12th goal for the season, turning in a cross from the right by Lorenze Mullarkey-Mathews.

Before the half time whistle sounded, Nic Evangelinos tried his luck from some way out, but his speculative effort was tipped away by Pradic.

Dom Lawson was through on goal again on the stroke of half time after a great slide tackle from Sam Bailey won the ball back for the Dolly Blues high up the pitch.

However, he was at a tight angle when he took his shot on, and could only find the side netting this time.

Bamber Bridge had the better of the chances in the opening stages of the second half but failed to cause many problems for Lancaster.

Charlie Barnes did well to block a Danny Edwards effort after some tricky footwork by the ‘Brig’ man.

That was before the Dolly Blue defender had a chance himself at the other end from a corner - his header, which could’ve found another Lancaster man lurking in the six yard area, was parried by Pradic.

Danny Edwards had another effort not long after from a corner, but it was well saved by the feet of Tom Stewart and cleared.

City’s lead returned to a two goal advantage with just over 20 minutes remaining.

A Sam Bailey corner from the left found Dom Lawson, who headed the ball home for his tenth of the season.

The club’s leading goal-scorer this season wheeled away in celebration but the job wasn’t done yet for City.

The visitors pulled a goal back once again just a couple of minutes after Lancaster’s third.

A Michael Potts header meant the Dolly Blues’ lead was back to just the one goal once again.

The Lancaster rearguard did exceptionally well to hold off the visitors for the remainder of the game and 3-2 was how it finished.

A header into the side netting from substitute Mark Cullen was the closest Bamber Bridge came to a leveller.

A delighted Chris Willcock spoke to Beyond Radio post-match, reflecting on a perfect weekend after a difficult spell of four consecutive defeats.

The Lancaster boss said: “I’m very happy with the way the weekend has gone, the lads have excelled in every aspect to turn our situation round.

“We’ve had a tricky two weeks regarding results, again they put their bodies on the line in every way today to enable us to get another win, off the back of a great away day on Saturday.”

He went on to say that the poor record against Bamber Bridge in recent years formed part of Monday’s pre-match message to the players. 

“It was part of the team talk today.

“I’d had a look at that, that’s been far too long to be honest. 

“It was nice to change that stat somewhat.”

Like with many teams, the scheduling of the Easter period has proved a challenge for Lancaster.

Willcock said: “Unfortunately, as a spectacle, [the game] wasn’t what it should be because of the quick turnaround in games, both teams felt that.

“Limited numbers on the benches, lads breaking down in the first half, it was tough.”

Lancaster City: Stewart, S Bailey (c), Brownhill, Sloan, Barnes, Ikpakwu, Evangelinos (Mellen 46’), Norris, Lawson, C Bailey (Hill 14’), Connelly (Carroll 90+2)

 

That result followed Saturday’s victory - a first away win in five - against playoff-chasing Guiseley.

Brad Carroll opened the scoring midway through the first half, latching onto a through ball from Nic Evangelinos and shooting low towards goal.

The ball hit the post before crossing the line. 

Gabriel Johnson, Guiseley’s - and one of the league’s - top scorers this season, turned provider for the Lions’ equaliser, with a low and fizzed ball across goal that found Jameel Ible, who struck it home from close range. 

Well into the second half, Lancaster regained the lead through a moment of pure footballing magic from Nic Evangelinos.

Following a nicely worked move by the Dolly Blues, Evangelinos picked up the ball in the box and took what looked like an awkward touch but it set him up for a very impressive back-heeled flick that stunned  Guiseley goalkeeper Oliver Battersby.

He could only watch on as the ball flew over him and into the net. 

Jake Connelly, off the bench, got his first goal since September in added time.

After a clearance from a long Guiseley kick, Charlie Bailey flicked the ball forwards towards Connelly, whose electric pace allowed him to sprint all the way from just inside Lancaster’s half with the ball, beat his sole marker and shoot low into the far corner.

The Lions’ prolific goalscorer Gabriel Johnson got one back in the final moments but it was too little, too late for the fellow playoff hopefuls.

Lancaster City’s next game, their last one at home for the season, is against the team just below them in the league, Gainsborough Trinity on Saturday afternoon (April 6).

Lancaster City v Guiseley: Stewart, S Bailey (c), Brownhill, Mellen, Ikpakwu, Barnes, Evangelinos, Carroll (Lawson 82’), Kilifin (Connelly 67’), C Bailey, Hill

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