LANCASTER City battled through the mire on Saturday to determinedly wipe last Tuesday night’s defeat from their minds and get back to winning ways.
Both sides had to master the elements as much as each other and their respective hammerings in their previous outing, it was a wet and wild afternoon and the Giant Axe pitch was turgid at best.
But there were confident displays from both sides, only a glimpse of the poor defending that saw them ship 15 goals the previous Tuesday and all in all a rip-roaring game that City deservedly edged to make it seven wins from nine.
The first half was a war of attrition, neither side dominated or entertained but the Dolly Blues seemed to have the edge and there were some notable performances.
Danny Hattersley, a striker at the very top of his game, looked sharp.
He perhaps should have added to his recent record of three braces in three games as he powered into the box and shot wide of the near post.
Max Rothwell, in a central-midfield berth alongside Alex Kenyon, was brilliant throughout. His energy and movement were class but it was more his desire to pick up the ball and move it forward that made a difference.
It was no surprise that, after the break, Paul Beesley was the man to edge the visitor’s ahead.
He had been bright throughout, had tested Martin Fearon with a couple of first-half efforts and his positioning was excellent.
He was in the right place at the right time to tap into an empty net after Steve Palfrey had surged into the box and crossed for Fearon to pat into his path.
The goal served to shake the Dolly Blues into some serious action; they had been on top and played the better stuff but with a less potent attack.
That was remedied direct from a corner as Ryan Elderton’s whipped delivery from the right found it’s way into the top corner of Rail ‘keeper Craig Parry’s net.
After the equaliser there really looked like being only one winner. City, spurred on by Rothwell, pinned the visitors in their own half and eventually got the goals to win it.
A moment of magic from Lee Dodgson sparked the second as his delightful flick pass over the Rail defence freed Dave Swarbrick into the box to score.
It was a piece of individual brilliance of a different kind that saw Swarbrick grab his second, this time it was more about desire and an incredible leap as Hattersley raced in from the right side to meet and flick on a Fearon clearance, his header found Zach Clark who pushed into the box and laid on Swarbrick to finish.
There was a nervy last few minutes as again Palfrey caused turmoil racing down the right and again City’s defence did not clear, this time Rob Henry – stretching to clear at the near post – diverted the cross into his own net.
Lifted by exceptional performances from Rothwell and Hattersley with a commendable supporting cast of goals from Swarbrick and battling midfield covering from Kenyon the Dolly Blues were deserved, and should have been clear, winners.
Lancaster City: Fearon 6, Henry 6, Elderton 7, Gregson 6, Marshall 6, Kenyon 7, Clark 7 (Meaney 86), Rothwell 9, Swarbrick 7, Hattersley 9 (Bunney 81), Dodgson 7 (Wills 73)
Subs not used: Egerton-Wilson, Hall
Harrogate Railway Athletic: Parry, Kane, Ward, Harratt, Danville, Gray, Thirkell, Maloney, Palfrey, Beesley, Wood (Durham 82)
Subs not used: Parkes, Hunter, Danby
Referee: Scott Taylor
Star man: Max Rothwell Nearing his top-form again, brilliant on Saturday