LANCASTER City suffered yet another hammering at Durham on Tuesday night, making it three defeats there in four seasons, conceding 16 goals in the process.
The three goals they struck in a rousing comeback that nearly earned them a point were the first they’d registered in those three attempts.
Frankly, despite their Danny Hattersley-led comeback in a rip-roaring last 25 minutes, City did not deserve the point they came so close to nicking.
Defensively they have not put in such an inept performance in recent years. They gifted two of the home side’s opening salvo and never looked in control of a decent but manageable attack.
Amur Purewal dominated Rob Henry down the left wing while all attacks came through Stephen Thompson, the small, portly striker with golden feet.
Talented he may be, with a deceptive burst of pace, but on their day Neil Marshall and Danny Gregson would have liked to have dominated him more.
Durham leapt into the lead inside five minutes and furthered it before ten, first Elliot Cutts headed into the top-corner with a little help from Martin Fearon who nearly saved it, then Jonny Davis from central midfield dispossessed Ryan Elderton, angled into the box and finished well.
Before the half-hour mark a carbon copy mistake to Elderton’s, this time from captain Marshall, handed the ball to David Dowson, who rounded Gregson and Fearon and slotted the ball home.
It looked game over, defensively City were at sixes and sevens, offensively they simply couldn’t keep the ball. Max Rothwell and Dave Swarbrick both burst into the box and struck wide but there was no fluidity in the build up of either attempt, more a desperation to make something happen.
Swarbrick, quite inevitably, had a hand in Elderton’s strike just before the break, and some strike it was.
Swarbrick’s pace saw him burst clear down the right and cross dangerously, the ball was cleared to Elderton who was lurking on the edge of the box after taking a corner on the right, he struck a left-footed shot with the outside of his boot into the top corner.
After the break City looked brighter and certainly didn’t let the score-line or freezing conditions dampen their spirits. The effort and commitment was not in question; the execution of their undoubted talents was.
However, they were hammered back into place after Thompson whipped in a dangerous cross that Fearon could only paw into the path of home captain Ross Wilkinson to score.
Alex Meaney, off the bench at the break, made a difference, his ability to beat a man with a trick led to a shot he squirted wide and a delicate pass to Lee Dodgson inside the box which he shot just wide.
The imperious Hattersley, quite brilliant throughout, sparked an attempted revival just after the hour mark when he was played into the box by Max Rothwell he kept his composure and finished well past the ’keeper at his near post.
The big striker got his second nine minutes later. Meaney’s deep corner pinballed around at the back post before Hattersley poked it in.
Inevitably in pushing for a equaliser City left gaps at the back and in injury time the home side took advantage. Dowson’s shot was well saved by Fearon but he could only tip it into the path of Purewal to finish easily.
Durham City: Graham, Stephenson, Shaw, Davis, Wilkinson, Madden, Cutts (Home-Jackson 78), Brown (Graham E 80), Dowson, Thompson, Purewal. Subs not used: Greulich-Smith, Pounder, Harburd.
Lancaster City: Fearon 5, Henry 4, Elderton 4, Marshall 4, Gregson 4, Kenyon 7, Rothwell 7, Wills 6 (Meaney 45), Swarbrick 6, Hattersley 8, Dodgson 6 (Clark 80). Subs not used: Bunney, Egerton-Wilson, Hall.
Referee: Neil Sharp
Star man: Danny Hattersley – Not just about the goals, his all-round play was excellent