TO a backdrop of budget cuts and potential player departures Lancaster City picked up a creditable point at home to fourth-placed Mossley on Saturday.
With a largely unchanged squad, only Jake Simpson has departed thus far, caretaker manager Mick Hoyle and player-coach Ryan Elderton shuffled the pack to good effect.
Rory Winters came in at centre-midfield and added height and strength - not to mention City’s best shot on goal - while Elderton slotted back in at left-back and Dave Swarbrick partnered top scorer Darren Green in attack.
It is expected that more shall depart Giant Axe in the coming weeks with the largely unused substitutes from Saturday seemingly under threat.
However the spirit on the pitch and the terraces was high, City played at a good tempo, closed down the opposition well and a decent attendance of 180 was in good voice.
The footballing fare was poor; defences were king in a game low on chances and goalmouth action.
Winters’ terrific strike with 15 minutes on the clock was the highlight of the first half, picking the ball up unchallenged in the centre of the Mossley half he dropped a shoulder to fake a pass left and advanced on the box before unleashing a thunderbolt of a right-footed effort which struck the outside of the post and went wide.
The Dolly Blues were excellent at the back though the visiting attack lacked any imagination in breaking them down, the assault was purely aerial and Danny Gregson, Neil Marshall and Ben Hudson ate it up.
For his part Elderton, who had a heavy influence on shape and tactics, provided most of City’s attacking threat linking up well with Lee Dodgson and Darren Green down the left wing.
The second half was slow and bitty, tit-for-tat fouls stagnated the play while both sides had underlying threat with pace up top through Swarbrick for City and Kayde Coppin for the visitors.
Coppin should have done better after beating Marshall with a clever flick with space to attack instead he tamely missed from range trying to catch Danny McDonald off his line.
Before that the Dolly Blues had the ball in the net but Gregson was well offside as he helped Swarbrick’s deflected, curling shot passed the Mossley ‘keeper.
City were impressive in an understated way, they were robust and combative but lacked the cutting edge and imagination necessary to break down a defence they seemed to have the number of.
They welcome Ossett Town to Giant Axe next Saturday and with 11 games still on the calendar it remains to be seen the effect the budget cuts will have on the current squad.
Lancaster City: McDonald 6, Hudson 6, Elderton 7, Marshall 7, Gregson 7, Winters 7, Winder 6, Wills 6, Green 6, Swarbrick 6, Dodgson 6 (McKenna 90). Subs not used: Clark, Wilson, Taylor, Kilifin
Mossley: Saunders, Young (Brown 63), Coo, Gorton, Halford, Young A, Gee (Hind 72), Hopper, Coppin, Madeley (Haslam 74), Denha. Subs not used: Band
Referee: Christopher Isherwood
Star man: Rory Winters - Revelled in the middle of the park and had the best effort on goal in a game low on chances