Lancaster City began their testing Easter weekend action with a defeat to playoff hopefuls New Mills at Giant Axe on Saturday.
Despite taking an early lead through Dave Swarbrick the Dolly Blues could not match the physicality of the visitors in a tough opening 45 that decided the tie.
Goals from corners from centre-back Dave Chadwick and forward Steven Moore cancelled out Swarbrick’s third minute strike and earned New Mills all three points.
Swarbrick had raced through in typical style after Rory Winters had helped the ball on from midfield in the opening exchanges, the visiting centre-backs were indecisive allowing him to sprint through unchallenged, and he slid a right-footed shot just inside the post from 16 yards.
The goal was a bit of a false dawn for the Dolly Blues as New Mills went on to dominant the first half in uncompromising fashion.
It was all rather predictable from the tall, robust visitors; they relentlessly flooded the City box with high balls and corners and eventually found a way past Danny McDonald in the Dolly Blue net.
He had made two sharp interventions to deny headers from close range before slipping up in difficult circumstances to allow Chadwick the space to strike.
Under pressure under his bar he could only pat the ball into the melee, one of many goalmouth scrambles that fell the way of the visitors and a free volley for Chadwick.
In remarkably similar style another corner from the right wasn’t cleared and this time striker Moore found the space to head straight down the middle of the goal with McDonald unable to react with little space to work.
That goal, just moments before the break, was just the dose of luck the visitors needed and the Dolly Blues have been sorely lacking.
With Darren Green looking forlorn down the left City lacked the imagination to build on their early lead, their own aerial assaults were easily repelled with Swarbrick and substitute Tom Kilifin unable to compete in the air.
The second half was a different tale as the visitors rested on their laurels somewhat and found a rejuvenated Dolly Blue side ready to match them physically and looking much sharper and energetic.
Unfortunately going forward they were still unable to unlock a stalwart defence led by Chadwick, comfortably man-of-the-match, and despite switching to a 4-3-3 attack for the last half hour they could not create the chances to pull this one back.
Indeed the best chance of the second 45 fell to goal scorer Moore who somehow contrived to miss a header when free in the box; his sliced effort fell to Carlos Meakin at the back post who struck high and wide.
A rather testing afternoon for the Dolly Blues who can be happy with their second half improvement unfortunately it was too little too late as the game had already escaped them.
Lancaster City: McDonald 6, Hudson 5 (Clark 45), Gregson 6, Marshall 6, Winder 6, Winters 6, Wills
6 (McKenna 82), Swarbrick 6, Green 6, Bradley (Kilifin 26)
Subs not used: Kelly, Fielding
New Mills: Stone, Bowler, Fitzpatrick, Platt, Chadwick, Egerton, Meakin, Young (Weston), Grimshaw,
Moore, Horrocks (Fish 83)
Subs not used: Innes, Graham, Battersby
Referee Gary Hilton
Starman: Danny McDonald – Without some first half heroics the score line would have looked a lot less respectable