Dolly Blues on the brink of safety

Glen Steel and Paul Dugdale. Picture: Tony North
Glen Steel and Paul Dugdale. Picture: Tony North

Boss Mark Fell has urged his Lancaster City side to virtually ‘sew up’ NPL Premier Division survival this weekend when they travel to Hyde United.

After a much fraught campaign, the Dolly Blues are on the brink of confirming their status at this level for at least another season.

Around three weeks ago with 10 games of the campaign to go, Fell revealed that he felt four more wins would guarantee safety.

In the two games since their manager’s declaration, City have banked six points thanks to wins over Stalybridge Celtic and a famous one over league leaders Farsley Celtic last time out at Giant Axe.

Those results pushed them up to 14th spot in the table and eight points clear of the drop zone – not bad for a team who were rock bottom and staring down the barrel when Fell took over the managerial reins in October last year.

If the Dolly Blues can come away from Greater Manchester this weekend with another victory then that would leave them with seven games to secure the handful of points .

Fell is hopeful that his men can go into April – the final month of the season – with all their relegation worries behind them and then he can look to try out a few different things with one eye on next season.

“We think another two wins or maybe a win and a draw will be enough to keep us in this division,” said Fell, whose side did not have a game last weekend.

“We want to get these points as quickly as we can then we can relax over the final few games of the season.

“It can also let me experiment with a few different things with next season in mind once we are safe.

“The lads are determined to get the required points very quickly.

“It would be nice to go into the month of April knowing we are safe and then it can give me chance to implement a few things like a different style of football.”

Despite not having a game last weekend, City did not suffer too much as only one team below them managed to win.

And the free weekend also came at a good time for City after a pressurised previous couple of months.

“Everybody lost last weekend apart from Stafford Rangers, who beat 10-man Warrington Town.

“The free weekend came at a good time for us, we felt like we needed a rest.

“The lads had started to feel the pinch after what has been a pretty intensive period since Christmas.

“We made sure we rested the lads up, but we’ve ramped it back up this week at traini ng on Tuesday and again tonight for when we go to Hyde.

“We were absolutely brilliant against Farsley. We took it to them in the second half, took the reins off and started to play some really good football.

“That’s one defeat in 10 and just two since New Year’s Day. So we are doing well.”

City will be without experienced defender Glenn Steel for the trip to Hyde United, but have brought in youngster Denzel Williams on loan from Wigan Athletic.

The 18-year-old – who has enjoyed a stint out on loan at Marine this season – impressed Fell when he went to watch him playing for the Latics Under-23s.

“Glenn Steel will be missing for us on a pre-arranged thing which we knew about,” said Fell.

“It is a blow because he’s been absolutely brilliant for us at centre half, but we are bringing Denzel Williams in on loan as cover.

“He’s training with us tonight.

“Hyde play ona 3G pitch so that’s going to be a tough experience for the lads.

“But they haven’t really got anything to play for. They are not going to get in the play-offs and they are not going down.”