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Ten-man Lancaster City beat Matlock Town in dramatic fashion

Match winner David Norris. Photo by Phil Dawson (@PhotosbyPhilD)

Lancaster City scored a dramatic last-gasp winner against Matlock Town at the Giant Axe.

The Dollies' 2-1 victory on Saturday was their first three points of the calendar year.

The game, played in foggy conditions, was decided by a hectic final few minutes which saw a red card and a goal for each side.

It’s a result that moves City up one place to 15th in the NPL Premier Division.

Niall Cowperthwaite gave the hosts the lead early on in the second half, but the real drama began in the 86th minute when Charlie Bailey was sent off for the Dollies.

Karl Demidh equalised for Matlock but David Norris produced a heroic last minute strike to give Lancaster the win.

The first half was one of very few chances. Brad Carsley had a couple of efforts, one each in the first five and last five minutes of the half, but neither hugely troubled the scoresheet.

The second half was significantly more exciting however, and it started in exactly the way that Mark Fell and his side would have wanted it to – with the Dollies breaking the deadlock.

Charlie Bailey’s corner kick connected with captain Cowperthwaite’s head and the hosts went 1-0 up.

Dom Lawson had a chance to make it two - he was through one on one with just the Matlock ‘keeper Saul Deeney to beat, but the Lancaster number 11 was denied.

Matlock could have equalised sooner than they did, had Alex Byrne’s effort in a crowded 12-yard box been a tad lower.

Byrne was at the centre of a huge moment in the game – Charlie Bailey was shown a red card after an off-the-ball incident with the Gladiators’ number seven.

Almost as soon as Matlock gained the advantage of having one more player than the opposition, Lancaster lost their one-goal advantage.

Karl Demidh made it three goals in three games since signing for the club at the turn of the year. Byrne’s cross was deflected and Demidh was there at the near post to nod it in.

You could be forgiven for thinking that that would be that – after all, Lancaster had drawn their last four in the league.

However, City’s veteran number 10 David Norris made a great run after a misunderstanding between Matlock players and slotted the ball past Saul Deeney to restore Lancaster’s lead.

Mere seconds later, the referee blew his whistle and the Dollies got their first win of 2023.

Mark Fell spoke to the media at the end of the game and labelled the win “a big three points.”

“That felt like the side that we’ve been after, the performance we’ve been after, for a long, long time.

"Yes, we’ve been hard to beat but we haven’t always played that well. I thought today was a 90-minute performance.”

Fell understood why his side were reduced to ten men towards the end.

“I haven’t seen [the incident] but I know what he’s done. To be fair, Charlie’s got involved in a situation with another player through a bit of provocation. Unfortunately, in this world, you can provoke people then claim a reaction.

“Charlie’s got drawn in, done something silly and he’s going to pay the price. At the moment, with the amount of injuries we’ve got, we can’t really afford that.”

What really pleased Fell was that many players delivered great performances while being out of their natural positions. Recent injuries to centre backs Jamie Mellen and Andrew Teague meant that, in the defensive department especially, Lancaster had to put “square pegs in round holes”.

Fell said the club are trying to get a short term fix sorted for the centre back situation but it’s “tough” due to financial constraints.

The Dollies’ next game is a trip to South Shields next Saturday (February 4), who are second in the league but have the same points and goal difference as leaders Hyde United with four games in hand.

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