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Late Sloan wonder-strike gives Lancaster City the win over Matlock Town

Christian Sloan struck a beautiful effort late on in the game to give Lancaster City a 1-0 home win over Matlock Town on Saturday (February 3).

Sloan’s goal rescued the game from being a very uneventful and forgettable affair.

City were defensively sound throughout, keeping their first clean sheet since December 23, with one of the three centre backs Niall Cowperthwaite receiving the Player of the Match award.

The victory moves Lancaster up to ninth in the NPL Premier Division, five points behind Worksop Town, who occupy the last of the playoff spots.

The first half an hour was very even with a couple of clear chances for both teams.

A Matlock attacker took a shot on from range with only a minute on the clock, but the ball comfortably skimmed past Andre Mendes’ post.

Dom Lawson had a chance just moments later but could only head his effort over the bar.

Around 25 minutes in, Matlock went forward with pace, the ball eventually coming to John Johnston, who got into a great position but his effort bobbled across the face of goal.

The rest of the half featured a few half chances for both sides but neither Andre Mendes nor Saul Deeney in their respective goals were tested.

Five minutes after the restart, ‘the Gladiators’ came close to breaking the deadlock.

John Johnston’s header smacked against the crossbar after some good build up play down the flanks for Matlock.

Player of the Match Niall Cowperthwaite came agonisingly close to putting Lancaster in front.

He was alert to the ball when Deeney thought he’d punched it clear of danger following a corner kick, but his nod towards goal was just about cleared off the line by a Matlock defender.

It looked increasingly likely that the game would fizzle out after that, with neither side creating much after the midway stage of the second half.

However, Christian Sloan was on hand to produce a fantastic strike out of nowhere.

In the last minute of regulation time, City’s number eight made a sizzling run through the centre of the park, nutmegging a defender and then hitting the ball beautifully into the bottom corner from outside the box.

Matlock had little time to produce a response, and Lancaster took the three points.

Dolly Blues boss Chris Willcock spoke to Beyond Radio after the game.

He was pleased with the result, but still wants to see improved performances.

“I’m elated, to be honest,’’ he said.

“The performance level wasn’t the same as last week but we’ve managed to create a moment in the second half with a wonderful finish from Christian - I thought his performance overall was very, very good.”

He went on to say: “Overall, [it was] a tough day. I think both systems cancelled each other out for long periods.

“It looked like there was only going to be an odd moment in the game of anybody making a mistake or a wonder-strike, and the wonder-strike prevailed today!”

Willcock was satisfied with the defensive display.

“We’ve changed the shape, that’s not affected us, we managed to get a clean sheet.

“At times we defended really well, we had to because we were under a lot of pressure.”

Next up for Lancaster City is a trip to Ilkeston Town on Saturday (February 10).

Lancaster City: Mendes, S Bailey (Connelly 73’), Clarke (Ikpakwu 65’), Cowperthwaite, Barnes, Brownhill, Evangelinos, Sloan, Lawson, Norris (Jarvis 65’), C Bailey

Subs not used: Deighan, Kilifin

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