A SPIRITED second-half fightback was in vain for Lancaster City as they went down 3-2 to Kendal Town in a pulsating pre-season friendly at Giant Axe on Saturday.
Following three Kendal goals in the opening 20 minutes, City caretaker boss Mick Hoyle probably feared the worst but goals from Tom Kilifin and Daniel Gregson made it an enthralling final 15 minutes for those at the Giant Axe.
Town took the lead just three minutes in after a Neil Beesley goalkeeping error after the City ‘keeper could only parry a cross from former Dolly Blue Alex Taylor straight into City defender Gregson, who had no time to react as the ball ricocheted off him and into the net for an own goal.
It should have been two just five minutes later. Ben Hudson’s misplaced pass was picked up on the edge of the area by Josh Kenworthy but his curling shot was well-saved by Beesley.
Lancaster simply couldn’t get out of their own half and Kendal made it two-nil 18 minutes in. This time it was Craig Carney who gave the ball away on the edge of the area and on this occasion the mistake was punished.
Danny Williams intercepted Carney’s pass and threaded it through expertly to captain Danny Wisdom, who cooley slotted the ball in off the post.
It went from bad to worse from the hosts just two minutes later as Kendal got a third. Taylor played a intricate one-two with Kenworthy, and after his attempted chip was saved by Beesley, he was first to the rebound and put it in from two yards.
The third Kendal goal appeared to knock City into shape as they realised an embarrassing drubbing could be on the cards.
Striker Jordan Connerton should have reduced the deficit when he headed a Ryan Elderton free kick over the bar from just five yards out.
It was another Elderton free kick, City’s most dangerous weapon in the first half, that found Max Rothwell whose shot also went over from close range.
Whatever Mick Hoyle said at half-time to his team it must have worked as they came out looking a completely different side.
The Dolly Blues had three good chances within the first five minutes of the restart.
Firstly, right winger Zach Clark went on a weaving run, taking on two before his vicious shot was blocked by a Kendal defender, as huge handball claims ensued. Referee Paul Kettlewell waved away the protests.
Tom Kilifin, who bagged two on his last game against Garstang, then squandered two wonderful chances. Firstly he horribly sliced a shot wide after a Clark knockdown. The same player then released him on goal again, but once more Kilifin put it wide from inside the area.
Just before the hour mark City got a slice of luck their second half start deserved. As the impressive Clark went on another mesmeric run on the right, there was an off the ball incident between Wills and Town defender Marc Joseph in the Kendal penalty area.
Wills went down and to the surprise of the crowd, Kettlewell pointed to the spot. This time Kilifin made no mistake, powering the ball into Craig Dootson’s top right hand corner.
The goal inspired the Dolly Blues. Dootson produced a top save from a Connerton snapshot before defender Gregson scored his second goal of the game, but this time at the right end.
Young right-back Joe Culshaw whipped in an excellent cross which Dootson and Joseph left for each other giving an unmarked Gregson the simple task of heading home from five yards.
The goal made for an exciting final quarter of an hour as Lancaster threw everything at a shaky looking Kendal backline.
All City’s attacks were going through Clark, whose pace and trickiness was causing Kendal no end of problems. Another direct run from right winger saw him take on three Town players before unleashing a powerful strike which was pushed round the post by Dootson.
Hoyle’s men huffed and puffed for the equaliser but Kendal stood firm. In the final minute of the game a Clark shot come cross agonizingly evaded the stretching right leg of Kilifin for what would have been a tap in and completed a stunning comeback.
Lancaster City: Beesley (Holden 52, 6) 6, Culshaw 7, Gregson 6, Hudson (McKenna 46, 7) 5, Elderton 8, Clark 9, Wills 7, Carney (Bowen 75, 6) 5, Rothwell 6, Connerton 5, Kilifin 6.
Subs not used: Stringfellow, Buller