Lancaster City 2-1 Stafford Rangers

Lancaster City players celebrate with goalscorer Rob Wilson. Picture: Tony North
Lancaster City players celebrate with goalscorer Rob Wilson. Picture: Tony North

Lancaster City began their Bet Victor Northern Premier League campaign with a 2-1 victory over Stafford Rangers at the Giant Axe on Saturday.

The Dolly Blues got off to the perfect start when they went on the attack from the kick off and were awarded a free-kick.

Rob Wilson stepped up and fired the ball in the bottom right corner inside three minutes to give City the lead.

Stafford struggled to create much in the opening exchanges and most of their threat came down their left hand side, with Andrew Haworth having most of the ball.

City extended their advantage in the 32nd minute from another Wilson free-kick, this time drilling a low ball into the area where it was flicked on to Jack Armer who made no mistake, smashing the ball home.

From then on it was all City, with Matty Blinkhorn coming close to making it three after turning his man in the box, the number nine used his body strength well to hold up the ball when City were on the attack.

Rangers continued to struggle to create any real chances and resorted to long ball tactics, but thanks to solid first half displays from Ben Hudson and Paul Dawson on the left flank, City were comfortable.

It was almost 3-0 towards the end of the half, with a City player having a clear sight of goal, only to be denied by a piece of heroic defending from one of Stafford’s back four.

City keeper Sam Ashton was to have a busy 45 minutes ahead of him in the second half, with Stafford slowly but surely creating chances and the Dolly Blues’ stopper produced a smart save to deny the away side from getting a goal back.

After the opening 15 minutes of the half, the game began to simmer down, much to the relief of Mark Fell’s men.

Both teams were struggling to keep hold of the ball in middle of the park, with the centre circle becoming somewhat of a war zone.

Ashton would be called into action on a number of occasions later on in the second period, and eventually, Stafford got their much-deserved goal.

Ashton was brought into action once again and made another superb stop, but the ball then made its way to substitute Evan Garnett, who lashed the ball into the net.

The pressure continued to pile on the Dolly Blues defence, and a huge chance to make it 2-2 came and went thanks to some heroic blocking to prevent Stafford from levelling the game.

City continued to look to hit the visitors on the break and in added time, substitute Sam Joel almost sealed the victory when he sent a curling effort just wide of the top right corner, and in the 94th minute the referee called the game to a halt.

Stafford fought hard to get something out of the game, but in the end City pulled through thanks to some fantastic defensive work.

Lancaster City: Sam Ashton, Paul Dawson, Jack Armer, Niall Cowperthwaite, Glenn Steel, Ben Norris, Ben Hudson, Rob Wilson, Matt Blinkhorn, Bradley Carsley, Charlie Bailey.

Subs: Lewis Fensome, Simon Wills (used), Sam Bailey, Luke Thompson (used) and Sam Joel (used).

Stafford Rangers: Lewis King, Paul Bignot, Matthew Hill, Luke Jones, Daniel Burns, Alex-Ray Harvey, Theo Bailey-Jones, Tom Thorley, Jake Charles, Joe Berks, Andrew Haworth.

Subs: Evan Garnett (used), Sam Coulson, Josh Green, Jed Davies (used) and Jack Sherratt (used).

Attendance: 362