A PERFORMANCE FULL OF grit and determination saw Lancaster City progress to the next round of the FA cup.
They knocked out Evo-Stik Premier outfit FC United of Manchester at Gigg lane on Saturday with a Lee Dodgson strike and a full blooded defensive effort.
After a good first-half where they more than matched their supposed superior opponents the Dolly Blues nicked the lead just inside the second-half.
They then spent 40 draining minutes defending in the October sunshine to repel wave after wave of FC United attack and keep in the hunt for a place in the elusive First round proper.
In an impressive first-half display the Dolly Blues more than proved that they can mix it at this level and perhaps should have earned a goal for their efforts.
Max Rothwell and Dodgson both had half-chances from the edge of the box that they scuffed wide before Dodgson narrowly missed the chance of the half.
He broke into the box after a Danny Hattersley flick-on, leaving a somewhat flat FC back four in his wake and lifted the ball over James Spencer in the home net, the unseasonable Autumn weather had left the Gigg lane pitch hard and it took a bounce before hitting the bar and being cleared.
At the other end FC danger man Carlos Roca had the edge in his captivating battle with Ryan Elderton – it was short-lived as the City full-back was immense in the second 45 to take Roca out of the game- and he masterminded the home side’s best chance, a disallowed goal from Ben Deegan after Roca had just ran the ball out for a goal kick before crossing.
If City were disappointed not to go in at the break with a goal they did not show it, coming out after the break with renewed confidence that was justified five minutes in.
An angled free-kick from deep on the left was delivered towards the back of the box by Elderton and headed into the danger area by Jack Duggan, the FC defence again dithered for long enough to allow Dodgson to nip in on the ‘keeper and slice the ball over the onrushing ‘keeper into the net.
The home side reacted by bringing Michael Carr and Matthew Wolfenden off the bench and it was evident that City were in for a battle.
It was perhaps, with hindsight, a dangerous game to play by the Dolly Blues as they set up camp to defend for forty long minutes they were far too deep at times and invited a lot of pressure.
However they were still, as always, dangerous on the counter, particularly through Dave Swarbrick who flew off the bench like a man possessed and it seemed like they would have enough in the tank to take their opponents all the way.
It took a monstrous effort and fair amount of luck to keep the United hordes at bay, striker Deegan missed an incredible four headers from six yards and only troubled Martin Fearon with one that he was more than a match for.
While the only other efforts of note involved the tricky Wolfenden and Mike Norton, the former broke into the box but scuffed a shot wide while Norton showed a great first touch to bring down a long pass and find space but his shot was easily saved.
Inevitably Swarbrick broke free on three occasions, hitting two ambitious efforts high and wide, one a cheeky lob that had Spencer scrambling, on the other lightening counter he showed excellent trickery to beat Lee Neville but after breaking into the box he should have pulled back for Joe Bunney who was unmarked.
The back four take all the plaudits for forty brave minutes of backs to the wall defending however special mention must go to Simon Wills who showed great energy in covering his back four alongside Alex Kenyon who showed great fighting spirit to boss the centre of the park.
In a scouting mission the Tuesday previous Tony Hesketh had watched FC beat Whitby Town 3-0 and had remarked that he thought they were vulnerable at the back and Dodgson and Rothwell certainly had their number for most of the game.
A brilliant performance from the Dolly Blues, who looked a drained yet jubilant bunch when the final whistle blew. The FA cup dream is still alive.
FC UNITED: Spencer, Jacobs, Neville, Cottrell, Jones, Stott, Roca, Battersby (Carr 57), Norton, Deegan, Grimshaw (Wolfenden 57)
Subs not used: Platt, Chadwick, McGreevy, Armstrong, Edwards
LANCASTER CITY: Fearon 8, Henry 8, Elderton 9, Duggan 8, Marshall 8, Kenyon 7, Clark 7 (Bunney 66), Wills 7, Hattersley 7 (Swarbrick 66), Dodgson 8 (Wood 72), Rothwell 7
Subs not used: Gregson, Hall, Meaney, Turner
Referee: Matthew Walsh
Starman: Ryan Elderton - Difficult to split a tremendous back four but his second-half handling of Carlos Roca was awesome