Lancaster City season preview: Positive signs at Giant Axe

Lancaster City head coach Darren Peacock.
Lancaster City head coach Darren Peacock.

All signs are pointing to Darren Peacock’s Lancaster City being at the sharp end of the Evo-Stik First Division North come the end of the season, according to Adam Lord

We’re being told not to get too excited.

Gary Hunter in action at Giant Axe for Lancaster City.

Gary Hunter in action at Giant Axe for Lancaster City.

Lancaster City are unbeaten this pre-season, fact.

But friendly results shouldn’t be taken too seriously, fact.

However it isn’t just the unbeaten eight games that point to bright things on the horizon at Giant Axe.

Rewind 12 months and consider the uncertainty that surrounded the Dolly Blues as they entered their most forgettable season in recent years.

Mark Jackson heads a City corner over the bar against Penrith.

Mark Jackson heads a City corner over the bar against Penrith.

Several changes on and off the field later, the club linked up with former Newcastle and Blackburn defender Darren Peacock.

And after a final day defeat at Salford all noises point to the rock-star haired former Premier League man having a revitalising affect on the club.

Five wins and three draws in the build-up to the new Evo-Stik First Division North season only tell part of the story, it is the manner in which the Dolly Blues have gone about their business that points to brighter times.

A commanding central defender in his top flight hey day, the 45-year-old has made City solid at the back and insisted they play from there.

The brand of football has been pleasing on the eye with the Dolly Blues keen to play ‘the right way’, scoring 21 and conceding just three in their impressive friendly run.

City also finished last season in 13th with a threadbare squad as they cut back in order to give themselves more breathing room for 2013-2014.

And the recruitment drive has been impressive, at least on paper.

Garry Hunter is the marquee signing, if you can have such a thing four tiers below the Football League.

The midfielder is only just over 12 months removed from being released by Morecambe and after a horrible season with Barrow as they were relegated from the Conference he is looking to enjoy his football again in the heart of the Lancaster City midfield.

The arrivals of central defender Glenn Steel, well-travelled midfielder Danny Mahoney and returning striker Mark Jackson also give City an impressive looking, and experienced, spine with Danny MacDonald only growing in confidence between the sticks.

The reborn Darlington, Northwich Victoria, who include former Blues Danny Gregson and Darren Green in their ranks and have added Tony Hesketh as a first-team coach, and Curzon Ashton are amongst the favourites to be the sharp end of the division come April and May.

But it is far from clear cut and the league looks wide open if the Dolly Blues can find some consistency.

Yes, it would be foolhardy to expect too much, but the signs are certainly good and in a tight division, the play-offs have to be the aim.