LANCASTER CITY picked up a hard-fought point away at play-off rivals Skelmersdale United on Saturday.
Some steadfast defending saw the Dolly Blues contain the league’s top-scorer Shaun Tuck and co for 90 minutes – he converted his goal from the spot – and they could have won it late on.
Tuck sent Martin Fearon the wrong way from 12 yards after the assistant referee judged that Ryan Elderton had handled the ball and had denied a goal in doing so inside the box.
It looked a harsh decision as it struck him from close range, yet it was quickly given and neatly tucked away.
With their own leading scorer, Danny Hattersley, making his debut in Stockport’s 5-0 hammering at Southport, the Dolly Blues started Joe Bunney up front alongside the in-form Lee Dodgson.
However it was centre-back Danny Gregson who equalised late on, a free-kick from the right whipped in by Elderton was flicked on by Gregson into the far corner.
Gregson and his back-four performed brilliantly against a great footballing side and quite simply nullified them; they had no shots on goal.
Chance-wise the first half produced nothing, both sides butted heads from box-to-box; it was fast paced and tidy football with no end product, perhaps a testament to both sides’ defensive work and an indication of how evenly matched they were.
Come the second 45, and indeed after Tuck’s penalty had got their backs up, the Dolly Blues dominated.
Off the bench at the break sprang Max Rothwell who looked full of energy and bite and he linked up with Bunney to provide the England Schoolboys international with a chance which he pulled just wide.
After Neil Marshall headed over from a corner it was then Rothwell’s turn to see a shot tipped just wide of the post.
The home side’s impetus was all but killed off after they had Anthony Hickey sent off for a high and late challenge on Elderton.
It was a certain red and City’s Marshall should also have seen red when flashed yellow for a similar tackle on Josh Hine which produced a typical set of handbags between players.
The point leaves the Dolly Blues in seventh on 59 points, just the one point off the playoffs and still with two crucial games in hand over play-off place rivals Farsley FC and Garforth Town.
Saturday’s match against Cammel Laird is one of just three remaining fixtures at Giant Axe and the Dolly Blues must heap misery on the league’s bottom placed side.
Lancaster City: Fearon 6, Elderton 7, Henry 7, Gregson 7, Marshall 7 (Swarbrick 68), Wills 7, Kenyon 8, Clark 7 (Turner 89), Wood 6 (Rothwell 45 7), Bunney 7, Ddosgon 7
Subs not used: Egerton-Wilson, Rogerson
Starman: Alex Kenyon – Having a terrific season and is vital to City’s midfield and the spine of the team