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Lancaster lose to FC United of Manchester despite David Norris farewell hat trick 

David Norris, who scored a hat trick on his last ever career appearance. Image by Michael Porter

Lancaster City battled hard but lost 4-3 to FC United of Manchester on the final day of the season.

Lancaster City legend David Norris scored a hat trick in his final ever professional game after a brilliant career which started back in 1999.

Goalkeeper Tom Stewart went off injured early on and defender Sam Bailey went in net, while Charlie Barnes was sent off in one of, if not the, most hectic match of City’s campaign. 

It was also Paul Jarvis’ last game for the Dolly Blues - he too is hanging up his boots - and he and Norris were given a warm send off and appreciation for years of dedicated service to Lancaster City. 

Goalkeeper Tom Stewart put his body and face on the line to stop an early FC United chance on the counter, at the expense of him being forced off with a nasty injury. 

Paul Jarvis came on to replace him and, with no other natural goalkeeper in the matchday squad, it was Sam Bailey who went in goal for Lancaster. 

City had a great chance from a corner, the ball was headed on towards David Norris whose effort just bobbled over. 

But Norris was to get more luck later on, as he scored the opener in his last ever game in professional football.

A lovely team goal with cute passes from Nic Evangelinos and Charlie Bailey found ‘Nozza’, who tucked it home and was immediately surrounded by his teammates and serenaded by the travelling support.

However, things turned sour for Lancaster on the half hour mark as Charlie Barnes was shown a red card for bringing down Lewis Gilboy on the edge of the box and halting a dangerous move.

Aaron Bennett took the resulting free kick which was confidently palmed away by Sam Bailey and deflected behind on the rebound.

Just moments later though, ‘the Red Rebels’ found an equaliser.

A deep, in-swinging cross from the right hand side found Jordan Buckley who headed it into the net.  

Lancaster weren’t back level for long though, they responded in fantastic fashion.

It was the outgoing David Norris once again who put the Dolly Blues back in front.

Norris latched onto the ball after Scott Moloney could only parry a Nic Evangelinos strike and thumped it in from close range. 

However, the hosts came forward in numbers on the stroke of half time and levelled things up again - Daniel Gabidon found space and struck a low drive into the net.

The game could’ve been turned on its head before the break but Guy Hall’s curling effort from out wide only brushed the top of the net.

FC United did get in front three minutes after the restart.

Ed Ikpakwu was controversially penalised for a challenge in the box and the home side’s number 10 Paul Ennis put them 3-2 up.

However, Lancaster’s number 10 was on a mission to complete a hat trick in his last ever game, and indeed he did.

The Reds were only in front for a couple of minutes before David Norris struck again with a calm finish from just inside the box.

More goals were to come though, and FC United had themselves back in front before the hour mark.

Paul Ennis released a powerful effort from distance which Sam Bailey could do nothing about. 

Lancaster fans were wondering how it wasn’t 4-4 with 15 minutes to go.

Charlie Bailey and Dom Lawson linked up well to get Christian Sloan into a goalscoring position, and the number four let fly, only for the ball to crash off the post, across the face of goal and away, leaving the away contingent with their head in their hands in disbelief. 

Sam Bailey made a fine stop with five minutes of regular time remaining to deny Gabidon from putting clear daylight between the two sides for the first time.

The stand-in keeper kept City in the game again just moments later, blasting a Paul Ennis effort clear of danger with his feet. 

Kyle Brownhill had a chance as the game went into additional time. 

Charlie Bailey’s throw in eventually found Brownhill, who turned and tried his luck, but he was in a tricky position and could only find the side netting.

The final scoreline was 4-3, the referee’s whistle bringing an end to not just an eventful game, but also an eventful season for the Dolly Blues.  

They end the campaign in ninth place in the Northern Premier League Premier Division, which is an improvement, both in terms of points tally and position, on recent seasons. 

David Norris spoke to Beyond Radio post-match to reflect on an emotional day and a fantastic career. =

“It’s unbelievable - if someone had said ‘in your last game of your career, you’re going to get a hat trick’, I would’ve said never and snapped your hand off!" said Norris.

“I’m buzzing with that but sad that it’s the end at the same time.

“We didn’t get the result, but with the way the game went and the ten men, I think we had a right good go.

“Today’s going to be right up there [as a career highlight].

“I’m going to miss so many things but things like when you’ve won a game, you’ve grafted and everyone’s jumping up and down celebrating, that’s what I’m going to miss the most and that’s what stands out.”

Norris gave a final message to Lancaster City supporters.

“A massive, massive thank you. 

“If I wasn’t enjoying it, I would’ve stopped but the changing room, the fans and the club have allowed me to continue to enjoy it so a massive thank you.” 

Lancaster manager Chris Willcock also spoke to Beyond Radio after the game.

“It had everything, didn’t it?" said Willcock.

“The way the game started, losing our goalkeeper after five minutes and having to put an outfield player in goal for 85 minutes and getting a man sent off, we showed the character and the quality we have in the squad to come back from adversity with ten men on a number of occasions.

“What an ending for David Norris. If he could’ve written a script this morning when he got out of bed saying ‘I score a hat trick’ that would’ve been the dream of dreams really.

“I’m delighted for him but sad to see him leave and sad he won’t be in the dressing room, he’s going to be a difficult character to replace.”

Willcock went on to also pay tribute to Paul Jarvis’ career.

“From Paul’s point of view, he’s come on and contributed to the game really well again today. 

“I wanted to change things up in the latter stages to give us fresh emphasis and try and get something out of the game and [what would’ve been] a well-deserved point but it wasn’t to be.

“For Paul to come back and experience all this in the latter stages of his career after everything he’s been through, you’ve got to take your hat off to him.

“That just shows the type of person he is and the type of character he has always been, the Lancaster City faithful have always enjoyed him when he’s had the shirt on.”

Willcock has been in charge at Lancaster since January - he looks forward to an exciting future at the club after an eventful first few months both on and off the pitch.

“I inherited a difficult situation but we’re starting to put a lot of things in place, there’s going to be a lot of announcements about how we’re going to take the club forward: short, medium and long term.

“We’re looking to have a more stable structure that will allow us to put the product on the pitch to enable us to be more successful than we have been, and to close the gap on the playoffs.”

 

Lancaster City: Stewart (Jarvis 8’ (Hill 66’)), S Bailey (c), Brownhill, Sloan, Barnes (sent off 29’), Ikpakwu, Mellen, Carroll, C Bailey, Norris, Evangelinos (Lawson 66’)

Unused substitutes: Connelly, Kilifin

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