Halesowen town 4-3 Lancaster City

Ryan Winder had a chance for Lancaster City in the first half. Picture: Tony North.
Ryan Winder had a chance for Lancaster City in the first half. Picture: Tony North.

An uncharacteristic display involving some woeful defending and complete lack of sharpness saw the Dolly Blues slip to a humbling defeat at the hands of relegation battlers Halesowen Town on Saturday.

With one of the best defences in the league coming up against one of the worst on Saturday, on paper this should have been a bread and butter three points for Phil Brown’s side.

With a near gale force wind, rain, and a tricky playing surface the weather played a part in levelling the two sides, but for a game they mostly dominated, City have no one to look at but themselves for the manner in which they lost.

The opening half hour proved to be a false dawn as City completely took control of proceedings without creating too many chances.

Craig Carney’s shot from range brought a save from Daniel Platt in the hosts’ goal, whilst Ryan Winder elected to head a lobbed ball first time wide when through on goal.

Against the run of the play, Halesowen took the lead from a corner in scrappy fashion after a rare venture forward.

The in-swinging cross bounced off Melle Meulensteen and was prodded home from close range by Asa Charlton with eight minutes remaining in the half.

The Dolly Blues thought they had fought back into the game when Paul Dugdale’s free kick evaded everyone and landed in the far corner of the net, only for referee Richard Gardner to chalk off the effort for an infringement in the box. Despite online replays, it is difficult to see what foul took place in what could have been a game-changing decision.

City started the second half as they ended the first, playing a back five with Oliver Wood as a sole striker, and offered next to nothing going forward both out wide and through the middle in the opening 
stages.

At the other end, it was far too easy for Town striker John McAtee to bag a quick brace in the space of eight minutes as the Dollies’ defence fell to pieces.

His first was a flick from a free kick relatively unmarked on the penalty spot, before he pounced on a miscommunication between defence and keeper to fire home at the near post one on one.

To their credit, Lancaster battled to the end, and an unlikely comeback looked on with two goals in four minutes with quarter of an hour to play.

Steve Williams and Meulensteen both scored from close range following goal mouth scrambles to throw the visitors a lifeline.

However, with City pushing forward, Halesowen scored the killer goal on the stroke of 90 minutes.

Lancaster lost the ball in midfield, and on the counter attack, Serigne Diop rushed through on goal and finished hard and low into the bottom left corner to wrap up the points.

In the dying seconds, Meulensteen’s flicked header from wide free-kick that looped neatly into the right hand corner saved some face on the scoreline, but otherwise this was a day to forget for City and forget quickly.

Lancaster City: Powell, Henry, Williams, Mercer, Dugdale, Winder, Carney, Hibbert, Harries, Meulensteen, Wood.

Man of the Match: Melle Meulensteen.