Dolly Blues have quality to be near top of table

Lancaster City manager Mark Fell. Picture: Tony North.
Lancaster City manager Mark Fell. Picture: Tony North.

Mark Fell believes statistics prove that his Lancaster City team have the ability to mix it at the top end of the NPL Premier Division.

For most of this season – and even now – City have been looking over their shoulder towards the bottom.

That has been because of their disastrous start to the season which saw them pick up just a single point from their opening six league games.

That left them firmly rooted to the foot of the table and led to the resignation of Phil Brown as manager.

By the time Fell took over as boss at the beginning of October, City had managed to pick up their first win of the season, but they were still looking up at the rest of the teams.

However, Fell has presided over a fine upturn in fortunes and – barring a remarkable turn of results over the final few weeks of the season – has guided the Dolly Blues to safety.

They are currently in 14th spot in the table – eight points clear of the drop zone with five games left to play.

Indeed an analysis of City’s record since Fell took over shows that their points per game ratio would have them in the top eight of the table if he had been in charge over the entire season.

City have accumulated just under 1.5 points per game under Fell – which is a sharp contrast on the 0.4 points per game record they had before he was installed. Fell has also pointed to the number of points his team have dropped courtesy of conceding goals late on which would have improved their record even more.

Although the boss admits City have also benefited from scoring last-minute goals as well, but all in all, Fell is excited about what the future holds.

“I think if you look at our points per game ratio since we took over, we would be around seventh or eighth in the table if it was over the all of the season,” Fell said.

“If you look at some of the goals we have conceded late on in games, we could be another eights points better off.

“We know that this side has quality and it tells us that we would be up and around the sharp end of the table if we had been here throughout the season.

“We would certainly be challenging for the play-offs and when you think that we have been looking over our shoulders for most of the season, it bodes well for next season.”

Despite being virtually safe, Fell is still not counting his chickens .

There will certainly be no complacency or having one eye on next season when Grantham Town visit Giant Axe this weekend.

“It will take an horrendous runs of results from us and an amazing upturn in fortunes from all the teams below us for us to be relegated,” said Fell.

“I think if you look at the form table, all the teams at the bottom are at the bottom of the league table.

“But we are not mathematically safe, so it would be remiss of me to think about anything else.

“We need to get these points on the board still.”

Grantham are on the same number of points as City but are one place below them in the table due to their inferior goal difference.

“We beat them 2-0 at their place in what was my second game in charge,” Fell said. “But I think they have had two managers inbetween that game and lots of different players.

“It doesn’t matter who you play in this division, it’s very competitive and if you’re not on your game, you’re going to get beaten.

“I think we are a win off 12th and two wins off 11th.

“If we can finish inside the top half then that will be quite something in terms of a turnaround from where we started off.”

While that is the challenge for his men, Fell admits he could be without star man ex-Ipswich and Leeds man David Norris for the rest of the season and Simon Wills is in need of surgery on a double hernia.

“David is having a scan on his knee and that could be him out for the season,” he added.