Lancaster City’s play-off chances are looking bleak after a disappointing draw with strugglers Padiham.
The Dolly Blues now sit two points off the last play-off place and reside in seventh on goal difference behind Farsley with just two games of the season remaining - starting with the trip to Kendal on Easter Monday.
City failed to capitalise on good spells of play against Padiham at Giant Axe on Saturday and were made to settle for a frustrating draw as Lee Dodgson missed a second-half penalty.
The game started brightly with both teams creating early chances as neither team were able to settle and take control.
The quick start to the game heralded an early goal for Padiham in the ninth minute as former Kendal and Northwich boss Lee Ashcroft broke away from his marker and glanced a header, guiding the cross towards Mike Hale’s far post leaving the keeper stranded as the ball found the net.
Lancaster looked to get back into the game straight away with Ryan Winder spreading the ball around nicely and stretching the Padiham defence with crosses into dangerous areas for the likes of Neil Marshall to attack from set pieces.
The homes side’s pressure paid off in the 16th minute when good play around the Padiham box ended with Dodgson’s clever back-heel into the path of Ryan Elderton who took the ball in his stride, striking it first time left-footed high into the Padiham goal leaving the ‘keeper helpless.
The special goal from Elderton spurred the Lancaster players on and they looked destined to score again before the half hour mark.
Almost straight from the restart the Dolly Blues won the ball back and continued their relentless pressure on the away side culminating in Tom Kilifin beating the Padiham ‘keeper to a bouncing ball in the area only to see his lobbed effort rebound off the post to safety.
As the first half came to a close Lancaster’s intensity dropped off as the game grew scrappy and some players began to tire. Winder forced a good save from Davis in the Padiham goal and Marshall went close with a header from a corner, but the half ended with the sides level.
The second half started much slower than the first but the Dolly Blues asserted their dominance and gave Padiham few chances to break in on Hale’s goal.
Although they enjoyed the majority of possession it was not until around the 60-minute mark when Lancaster got their golden opportunity to take all three points.
Kilifin broke into the Padiham box and was brought down by a clumsy challenge from Padiham’s Tom Murphy leaving the referee little option but to point to the spot.
Dodgson stepped up to take the vital spot kick but even though the keeper went the wrong way it did not matter as the number 10 blasted the ball over the bar.
This set the tone for the rest of the match for the home side who from then on struggled to create anymore clear-cut chances.
The closest they came to a win came in the dying minutes, when second-half substitute Gavin Clark broke free down the left wing before firing his left footed shot across the goal mouth but disappointingly beyond the far post.
All in all it was a frustrating afternoon for Darren Peacock and his men who now need to win their remaining two games and hope that teams above them drop points.
Lancaster City: Hale 7, Henry 5, Elderton 7, Davis 6, Marshall 5, Hunter 6, Winder 8, Akrigg 6, Wearing 7, Dodgson 6, Kilifin 6. Subs: Hudson 5, Clark 6. Subs not used: Walker, Taylor, Donlon
Star Man: Ryan Winder – Creative and looking to change up the play as ever.