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Lancaster City’s unbeaten run ended by Bamber Bridge comeback win

City interim manager Andrew Teague. Image by Michael Porter Photography.

Two late goals from rivals Bamber Bridge meant that Lancaster City suffered their first loss in eight on Boxing Day.

City were once again left to rue missed chances after a flurry of opportunities, in the first half especially.

They have now been overtaken in the table by their opponents, dropping to 16th in the NPL Premier Division.

However, they are comfortably clear of the relegation zone by 13 points and have games in hand on most teams above them.

The Dolly Blues took an early lead through Jamie Mellen but ‘Brig’ turned the game on its head inside the final 10 minutes through Danny Forbes and a Jack Baxter wonder-strike.  

Former Lancaster loanee, defender Lamine Toure, was sent off late on in the game for Bamber Bridge after committing a second bookable offence.

There was some good news that came from Tuesday’s derby defeat.

Substitute Nic Evangelinos came on in the 71st minute in what was his first appearance since August, when the forward suffered a broken leg.

Boxing Day has rarely been memorable for Lancaster in recent years - the last time they got a win in the first game after Christmas was back in 2015. 

However, after a seven game unbeaten run which included pushing a high-flying Worksop Town all the way in a 0-0 draw on Saturday, there will have undoubtedly been some optimism heading into this game. 

Lancaster did start the game very positively, in fact they were on the front foot for the vast majority of it and causing Bamber Bridge loads of problems.

Headers from interim assistant manager and joint top goal scorer this season Simon Grand, and Jacob Holland-Wilkinson, early into proceedings went over the bar.

When Jamie Mellen got the chance to head the ball home, he made no mistake.

After a scrappy corner routine, attempts to clear the ball from Brig were unsuccessful and Mellen nodded the ball past James Pradic to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

Only a few minutes later, Jake Connelly had a great opportunity to extend Lancaster’s lead, but Pradic did brilliantly to stop his curling attempt direct from a free kick.

Pradic was once again on hand to keep City’s lead at just the one goal to nil. 

He closed down Dom Lawson as the striker bore down on goal following a through ball by Charlie Bailey, and managed to get his body at full stretch to block Lawson’s shot.

Only moments later, the on-loan Preston goalkeeper was needed again, this time to stop Jacob Holland-Wilkinson from bending it home from the left hand side.

Jamie Mellen could’ve got a brace on the half hour mark but his volleyed effort ricocheted off the bar and went behind.

Charlie Bailey and Dom Lawson both came close to extending the lead before the break but somehow the two teams went into the tunnel at half time with just one goal separating them.

Bamber Bridge began the second half as expected: fired up and ready to try and turn the game around.

Billy Bould’s shot for the hosts just four minutes after the restart flew past the goal but it was the sign of a team that weren’t giving up, despite a poor first half display.

Mackenzie O’Neill and Danny Edwards were at the heart of Andre Mendes’ first big moment of the game.

Mendes rushed out to smartly get the ball from Edwards’ feet after O’Neill tried to play a pass to him on the edge of the area.

‘Brig’ became the more dominant team in terms of possession as the second half went on, but it took over 30 minutes of the second half for them to really apply meaningful pressure in the final third.

Harry Scarborough couldn’t keep what seemed like a golden chance down but the hosts kept pushing. 

Lancaster fans appealed for a penalty when Lawson went down after Pradic took the ball and stopped him in his stride - only moments later, Pradic and his backline started what was an impressive move by the hosts to get the equaliser.

Right back Chris Churchman’s cross fell into the path of sub Danny Forbes, who got past his man before taking the shot on and finding the net. 

Lamine Toure was sent off for a second bookable offence with five minutes remaining, much to the anger of the Bamber Bridge bench.

James Pradic received Brig’s player of the match award for limiting Lancaster to one goal, but another player in white and black went on to take a lot of the plaudits.

After composing himself once receiving the ball, midfielder Jack Baxter took a powerful, curling shot on from the edge of the 18-yard box and it found the top corner - there was nothing Mendes could do to prevent it.

Interim manager Andrew Teague said City’s first half performance was “excellent” but lamented their wastefulness in front of goal.

“We said at half time, if you want to be a mediocre team and come in 1-0 up when you should be 5-0 up, [losing the game] can always happen," he said.

“Brig kept digging away and scored two late goals but the game should have been finished at half time.

“Credit to Brig for coming back but it’s just not good enough on our part.”

Next up, Lancaster City welcome the NPL Premier Division ‘s second from bottom outfit Atherton Collieries to The Giant Axe on New Year’s Day.

They beat Workington 4-3 at home on Boxing Day.

 

Lancaster City: Mendes, S Bailey (c), Brownhill, Mellen (Cowperthwaite 59’), Grand, Barnes, C Bailey, Sloan, Lawson (Norris 63’), Holland-Wilkinson, Connelly (Evangelinos 71’)

Subs not used: Teague, Clarke

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