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An End Has a Start

Season-high attendance for Lancaster City victory on Non League Day

Sam Bailey about to take his penalty on Saturday. Photo by Josh Brandwood.

It was the perfect Non League Day for Lancaster City as they earned a deserved three points against Hyde United.

A record attendance for the season of 833 watched the Dollies win 2-1 at the Giant Axe, a result that extended their winning run at home to six games.

Before the game, Cat Smith MP unveiled a plaque honouring the legacy of Lancaster City Ladies player Jennie Harris.

The unveiling was watched by supporters of both clubs, as well as players of Lancaster City Ladies and Preston North End U14s Girls.

Lancaster City boss Mark Fell spoke to Beyond Radio after the game and said the atmosphere on Saturday was “as good as we’ve had” since he arrived at the club in 2018.

“I think 833 is the official crowd but they were saying they struggled to deal with everyone so it’s probably more like 900!" he said.

“I don’t think we could have done any more, it was a really well organised day from the board’s perspective.

“I’ve not heard that sort of reaction and noise around the place (when Lancaster scored the winner) so it gives the lads a real lift as well.

“If we get 500 or 600 at the next home game against Gainsborough would be fantastic!”

The game started out, and continued, in an even fashion. Hyde’s Craig Carney, formerly of Lancaster, tried his luck on the volley but Waller made a good catch.

Nic Evangelinos’ header for the Dollies went just over but it was dipping, and David Norris’ effort was charged down by the Hyde back line.

Evangelinos received a pass from Charlie Bailey and sprinted into the box, before goalkeeper Dan Atherton brought him down. Atherton received a yellow card but the Lancaster fans were adamant he should have been given his marching orders.

Sam Bailey stepped up to take the penalty and powerfully struck it to the keeper’s left.

With seconds remaining in the first half, Tom Pratt directed a header towards goal but Waller produced a remarkable one hand save to keep it from going in.

However, two minutes after the restart, the visitors got themselves level when Aaron Fleming tapped in from a corner kick.

Kyle Brownhill had the chance to put Lancaster back in front against the club he left last summer, but his effort from the left went just wide.

Jake Connelly came on for Charlie Bailey with ten minutes remaining and made an incredible impact. With five minutes of normal time left, Sam Bailey delivered a looped cross for the number 17 who was at the right place at the right time to give the home side their lead back.

There were one or two nervy moments in the remainder of the match as Lancaster looked to hold onto their lead, and the likes of Rudy Misambo were absolutely crucial to keeping the score at 2-1 as Hyde punted it forward.

“I thought we deserved it," said Mark Fell.

"The first half was a really even contest, a non league game of football on Non League Day!

“It was attritional, there were little bits of quality from both sides but I thought it was going to take a bit of genius or magic to unlock it. Nico’s movement for the penalty was fantastic!”

Fell said he was a bit confused about the officiating decisions made in the game.

“I don’t really really know what the rules are anymore about sendings off.

"Callum Spooner should have been sent off, he fouls Norris when he’s clean through, he’s breaking away - that’s a yellow, and the tackle on Brad Carroll is horrible.

“The ‘keeper maybe should have been off, I don’t know. The referee is saying it’s not a clear goal scoring opportunity - he’s knocked the ball past the goalkeeper, what is?

“Sam dispatched (the penalty) with aplomb, which is what he does. In the second half we came out and struggled to get started. The goal’s gone in after two minutes, everything you guard against in the dressing room: we weren’t set from a throw in, we didn’t mark the middle of the box, we didn’t press the ball and we got punished.

“But after that, we settled down a bit, started looking dangerous on the counter and I actually thought it was only us who were going to win it. They pumped a few long balls in and had a few knock downs and crosses from the right channel but if there was going to be a winner it should have been us.

“We had two disallowed as well! I won’t be told by anyone that we didn’t deserve to shade it – not lots in it, but deserved to shade it.”

Fell was delighted with Jake Connelly’s impact.

“It’s exactly what he does, we need to get him a bit sharper, he’s had this hernia that’s kept him out all season.

“We’ve asked him to come on and just explode for the last 10, 15 minutes. He’s just put himself in a great position for the goal, great work by Nico again.”

Lancaster City now have back to back away games against Warrington Rylands and Liversedge, and will want to maintain their position at the top of the NPL Premier Division form table.

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