Lancaster boss Brown hopes FA Cup win will kickstart season

Ricky Mercer battles for the ball against West Auckland. Picture: Stuart Laundy
Ricky Mercer battles for the ball against West Auckland. Picture: Stuart Laundy

Lancaster City boss Phil Brown hopes his side’s thumping FA Cup win can kickstart their season.

The Dolly Blues had stuttered into Evo-Stik First Division North action with an opening day defeat to Droylsden and a draw at Burscough.

But Brown’s men were 5-1 winners in the North East against Northern League outfit West Auckland on Saturday, setting up a first qualifying round tie at Brighouse Town on September 3.

Next up is a league double header with Glossop North End visiting Giant Axe on Saturday before the local derby against Bamber Bridge at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium on Monday.

Brown said: “After the game we spoke about using it as a kickstart for our league campaign.

“Performance wise it was a benchmark for us going through the season. 
“If we can play like that we’ll do alright.

“Now we look ahead to our next game which is Glossop North End which will be a difficult game.”

Two games in three games mean the City boss will have to use his squad, something he is ready to do with competition fierce.

Brown has almost a clean bill of health with only Billy Akrigg struggling with a sore thigh.

He said: “Glossop reached the play-offs last year and seem to have good resources.

“Then Bamber Bridge is a local derby and anything can happen.

“As ever, we’ll be looking to pick up something from both games, especially the one at home.

“We’re under no illusions about how difficult the games are going to be though.

“But the squad is healthy and there’s plenty of competition for places.

“Players are having to perform to keep hold of the shirt.

“It’s tough picking a squad at the moment never mind a starting 11.”

The FA Cup victory, inspired by a Jordan Connerton hat-trick, was one that saw things come together for the Dolly Blues after a patchy start.

Brown said: “I said before the game that I wanted the players to embrace the season and they did that on Saturday.

“They played with a lot more purpose. I’d say it was a powerful performance from us.

“We opened up really well, scoring an early goal always helps. Things just seemed to click.

“Everyone worked hard and there was plenty of quality in our play on Saturday.

“It was a great result.”

The only downside for City was Mike Hale’s late red card for handling outside the area, meaning defender Gavin Clark donned the gloves for the final five minutes with Brown having made all three of his substitutions.

Brown said: “It was a misjudgement.

“The ball got caught in the wind and he was left with the option of the ball going over his head and letting the striker in or grabbing it and trying to maintain his balance in the area.

“He just couldn’t maintain his balance.

“We didn’t think it was a goalscoring opportunity because the wind was taking the ball away from goal.

“I spoke to the referee but he didn’t agree.

“It was disappointing because we were 5-1 up with five minutes to go.”

Hale is set for a one-game ban, which is likely to be served at Brighouse Town on September 3.