A FANTASTIC cameo from striker Tom Kilifin surged Lancaster City past Ashton Athletic and into the next round of the FA Cup.
The Dolly Blues will now face Salford City in the next preliminary round on September 8 after finally seeing off the spirited North West Counties Premier League side in Tuesday night’s replay.
It was a striking exhibition from Kilifin that provided the edge City needed in the box, the former Kendal man providing two clinical finishes and a focal point for the attack that a tiring Ashton defence simply couldn’t handle.
City had finally got off the mark on 49 minutes after Dave Swarbrick surged down the right and set up Zach Clark for a terrific 20-yard strike.
The lightening quick duo had been City’s most potent threat over both games and it finally clicked for them here in spectacular fashion.
Swarbrick, playing a more central attacking role, had come close twice in the first 45 with a flicked header just wide and a shot blazed over from range.
The equaliser was a poor one to concede, a cross played low from the left was allowed to travel fully across the box and missed at the back post by Stefan Holden; it fell to Carl Addison to slot into an empty net.
Missing Joe Bunney with a persistent groin injury and making a defensive reshuffle that saw Daniels Parkinson and Gregson drop to the bench City needed to win and play well to banish a few doubts about a flat start to the season.
With Swarbrick partnered by Max Rothwell in attack a more measured build up was always going to be the way forward and on the occasions that City managed to pass their way up the pitch through Craig Carney and Rob Wilson they looked a cohesive unit and a dangerous side.
What Kilifin brought off the bench on 68 minutes was more of a presence up front, a danger from crosses and a quality finish with his very first touch.
A cross from Swarbrick was brought down by Rothwell in the box and played into Kilifin who got across his marker and swept the ball into the bottom corner.
His second was similar in the build up, Swarbrick to Rothwell who this time headed it into the young striker’s path who showed good strength to hold off a defender and a bit of guile to lob the ‘keeper and score.
He could well have had a belting hat-trick as he saw a header and a cheeky back heel well saved, the latter given offside.
Rothwell got in on the act with a brilliant 90th minute header, again laid on by Swarbrick, to crown a good performance for the midfield man.
The win should do wonders for Dolly Blue confidence and with Simon Wills to return from his rib injury on Saturday the only concern ahead of the league tie with Curzon Ashton will be striker Bunney.
Lancaster City: Holden 6, Clark G 7, Elderton 6, Stringfellow 6, Marshall 6, Wilson 7, Carney 6, Clark Z 7 (Kilifin 68), Swarbrick 8, Rothwell 7, Wainwright 6. Subs not used: Wheeler, Bowen, Gregson, Parkinson, Winder
Ashton Athletic: Brinksman, Waldron, Casey, Jones, Mangan, Barnett, Woods (Brown 78), Addison, Bailey (Howarth 72), Ward, Stewart. Subs not used: Halton, Kavanagh, Hendley
Referee: Kelvin Sarsfield
Star man: Tom Kilifin – Everything you need from a substitute and more, could have had a hat-trick