A DISAPPOINTING night ended in defeat for the Dolly Blues on Tuesday as ten-man Clitheroe put in a sharper, stronger and ultimately better performance to earn three points.
City were second-best throughout and despite the away side losing full-back James Heywood, who must have mortally offended official Barry Cropp to receive a straight red for dissent on 38 minutes, they nicked the victory with a late header from Ryan Fisher.
The man in black may have been atoning for an earlier error after Dave Swarbrick was chopped down by last man Jack Higgins when racing in on goal, the centre-back had his head in his hands expecting a red but was only booked.
Swarbrick was lively for the Dolly Blues, using his pace to spin off the shoulder of the last man time and again and it paid off on 37 minutes when he broke free and calmly slotted the ball past ’keeper Zach Hibbert.
Chances were few and far between. Before the goal Adam Farrell had a decent chance when he picked Rob Wilson’s pass out of the air with a deft touch but sliced his volley wide.
Down the other end yet again Martin Fearon was in fine fettle denying Ashley Parillon a side-footed goal after he latched on to Alex Porter’s cross.
The loss was City’s eighth of a tough campaign but to put it in perspective it is only one more than Clitheroe who have played five more games.
However sitting in eighth place and five points adrift of a play-off place the Dolly Blues have a lot of work to do in the coming months to attain their season’s goal.
The equaliser was unfortunate for full-back Rob Henry who was forced into action just inside his own box by the bustling presence of former City striker Alan Coar; his attempted clearance sliced off his boot and flew over Fearon’s head and into the back of the net.
Loanee Craig Roberts came off the bench and looked very handy indeed, the 19-year-old is at City for a month to regain his fitness and whipped in some dangerous crosses in an eye-catching 25 minute cameo.
The winner had an air of inevitability about it as ten-man Clitheroe simply fought harder and won more balls, substitute Phil Eastwood rolled Rob Henry on the line and won a corner off Andrew Teague which was met by the smallest player on the pitch with just three minutes on the clock.
The Dolly Blues now have to get their season back on track.
LANCASTER CITY: Fearon 7, Henry 5, Teague, Marshall 5, Ward 5 (Roberts 64), Rushton 5 (Johnson 70), Wilson 5 (Rothwell 85), Swarbrick 7, Farrell 6, Jarvis 5
Subs not used: Kilbane, Nightingale
Clitheroe: Hibbert, Heywood, Smalley, Fisher, Higgins, Jones, Brees, Parillon (Devenny 85), Green (Eastwood 70), Porter, Williams (Coar 41)
Subs not used: Hodgkiss, Roberts
Referee: Barry Cropp
STARMAN: Dave Swarbrick - More than deserved his goal for his efforts