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Lancaster come from behind to get deserved win over Bradford Park Avenue

Image: Michael Porter Photography

Lancaster City came from 2-0 down to beat NPL Premier Division strugglers Bradford Park Avenue.

The result was Chris Willcock’s first win as Lancaster boss since his appointment on January 12.

Matty Clarke came in to replace the recently departed Simon Grand - who left last week to join Bamber Bridge - in the only change to the Lancaster City who lost against Hyde United on January 13 in Willcock’s first and, before Saturday, only game in charge of the Dolly Blues.

Nic Evangelinos, Sam Bailey and Dom Lawson were the scorers for City.

Despite the fact that Lancaster conceded the first two goals of the game, they always looked the stronger and more dominant side.

They had opportunities before Bradford PA’s opener.

Charlie Bailey was in a great position to take a shot on after David Norris laid the ball off to him, but his effort was charged down by a home defender.

City players were appealing for a penalty in the 18th minute for a foul in a crowded box, but the referee waved away the shouts.

Only moments later, he pointed to the spot at the other end, after Matty Clarke was judged to have brought down Lucas Odundston illegally.

The Green Army’s number 10 Jordan Preston made no mistake in converting the penalty kick.

The hosts tried to double their lead four minutes later but Andre Mendes was equal to Harry Colville’s long-range drive.

Nic Evangelinos had the chance to equalise from point blank distance but Tom Scott in the Bradford PA goal managed to save it.

That was the last chance of note in a first half which was largely competed in the centre of the park.

The home side made a lightning fast start to the second half.

Justin Iwobi took advantage of a loose ball to get his first goal for the Green Army.

The goal left Willcock’s side with a mountain to climb, but climb it they did.

A trademark Sam Bailey delivery into the box found Nic Evangelinos at the near stick and he had the simple task of turning the ball into the net, five minutes into the second 45.

Despite Lancaster being in control for large parts of the game, particularly after Evangelinos’ strike, the hosts were convinced they’d got a third goal with just over 20 minutes remaining.

Iwobi’s effort, after Mendes parried a trickled shot, crashed against the crossbar and bounced down, with Green Army players adamant the ball had crossed the line.

However, the referee and his officials disagreed, and Lancaster could breathe a sigh of relief.

City got the chance to equalise from the spot with less than 15 minutes remaining, which they took with aplomb.

Dom Lawson was recklessly brought down by ‘keeper Scott in the box, and Sam Bailey confidently converted from 12 yards.

Lawson got City the winner with one minute of normal time left.

A ball was whipped in with pace from the right and the number nine prodded it home.

The Dolly Blues held firm for the six minutes of added time and gained an important and well deserved three points.

They are now only five points off the playoffs.

A pleased Chris Willcock reflected on his first win as Lancaster boss when he spoke to Beyond Radio after the full time whistle.

“I’m immensely proud of the players, the character shown today is what Lancaster’s DNA is all about - a never say die attitude,’’ he said.

“We kept on going, showed moments of quality, we changed shape and added more attacking players to get ourselves back in it.

“I’m pleased for everybody associated with the football club.

“It’s been a tricky couple of weeks with one or two things happening off the pitch, but that result is for everybody at the club.”

Despite being down at the break, Willcock said his message at half time was to keep going.

“To be fair, it was more of the same of the first half. I was really happy with how we controlled things and on another day we would’ve scored a couple in the first half.

“Full credit to them, they were ruthless when opportunities presented themselves but I said to the lads ‘don’t get your heads down’.

“We had an early setback in the second half but the lads stood up, stuck their chests out and when we changed things, we started to create more and scored three good goals.”

The last two scheduled games before Saturday’s clash were postponed, but the midweek training sessions have provided Willcock with the opportunity to “get to know people.”

“I’ll keep working on what I’d like to implement on the squad going forwards but in terms of the character of the squad today, everyone played their part and even when we weren’t having a good day, they kept going.”

Lancaster City’s next game is at home to Matlock Town on Saturday (February 3).

Lancaster City: Mendes, S Bailey, Clarke (Kilifin 75’), Cowperthwaitw, Brownhill, Barnes, Evangelinos, Sloan, Lawson, Norris (Connelly 65’), C Bailey

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