Lancaster City did little to reassure any fears of coping without start striker Jordan Connerton with defeat at Northwich Victoria on Tuesday night.
With Ryan Elderton and Glenn Steel missing through work commitments, and without Tom Kilifin missing through injury, a mix and match side put in a tireless shift but were let down by defensive lapses.
Jacob Davis, Lee Dodgson, Aaron Taylor and Simon Wearing all started for City with Gavin Clark filling in at left back.
The team, the best available to head coach Darren Peacock, looked unbalanced and struggled to turn decent first half possession into chances.
Neil Marshall was unlucky to see his effort from a corner bounce wide, whilst a last-ditch tackle stopped Taylor finding the net from close range after some nice link up play with strike partner Wearing.
An action packed second half would have been a great 45 minutes for the few neutrals present, but it wasn’t one to savour for the travelling Dollies who outnumbered the home fans not for the first time this season.
Vics striker Gary Burnett broke the deadlock early into the second half. Latching onto a great threaded ball from Josh Amis the striker hit a low shot under ‘keeper Mike Hale from just inside the box to give the hosts the lead.
City were by no means out of the game and created the chance to equalise on the hour mark. Dodgson capped a solid individual performance with a delicate lob over Vics’ keeper Tim Deasy that was helped over the line by Taylor but the goal was credited to winger Dodgson.
All City’s good work to get back into the game was undone three minutes later however.
Chris Smalley had time and space on the edge of the Lancaster box to pick out an unmarked Jordan Hadfield who had a simple backpost header into a gaping goal.
If the goal to take the lead was disappointing to concede for the Dolly Blues, the goal to seal the points was self destruction. The usually faultless Hale fumbled a catch from a Vics corner and Callum Hendry took advantage to sweep the ball home from close range to end the contest.
City had some half chances to raise a late comeback, most notably Garry Hunter’s fierce shot that whistled over the bar, but on the night were simply not at their best, and now must beat play-off rivals Farsley at Giant Axe on Saturday to keep their promotion hopes alive.
Lancaster City: Hale 5, Henry 7, Davis 6, Marshall 7, Clark 6, Winder 5, Walker 6, Hunter 7, Dodgson 7, Taylor 6, Wearing 6.