Lancaster City 2-2 Radcliffe Borough

Tom Kilifin puts Lancaster City ahead after 12 minutes.
Tom Kilifin puts Lancaster City ahead after 12 minutes.

Lancaster City returned to action on Tuesday night and they kept the drama coming with a 94th-minute Dave Swarbrick strike earning them a point at Giant Axe.

The point was deserved but after gifting the visitors an equaliser and with skipper Neil Marshall seeing red in the opening exchanges of the second half it was, as usual, anything but straightforward.

The Dolly Blues dominated the first half without really troubling the Radcliffe goal.

Darren Green made his debut after signing from Bamber Bridge and was composed in possession and showed some lovely touches.

He could well have had a goal to crown his performance but a bobble took the ball over his foot from inches out after good work from Rob Wilson down the left.

Wilson again shone going forward and could have had a goal himself but first blazed over from 18 yards and then hesitated after latching on to a terrific Swarbrick pass.

It was striker Tom Kilifin who broke the deadlock showing poise on the ball inside a crowded box before slamming a shot through a sea of legs and in on 12 minutes.

City look a potent threat while on the attack with quick wingers and dangerous forwards but too often they get dragged out of shape and make life difficult for themselves on the defensive.

It was a howler from City ‘keeper Danny McDonald that let the visitors back into the game, a deep set-piece from the left hung in the air for him to collect and he contrived to drop it onto the back of full-back Shaun Connor and it bobbled in.

Otherwise McDonald was excellent. He made some crucial second-half interventions when his side were under the cosh, but it is an age-old adage that goalkeeping mistakes are always more costly and for good reason. Who’d be a goalkeeper?

The other man with an unwanted job, referee Barry Cropp, lectured City captain Marshall and visiting striker Ben Wharton at length in booking them in the first half.

It was no more than a childish bout of handbags and a lecture could well have sufficed but Marshall was in the book and deserved to be cautioned again for a late tackle on Griff Jones with 52 minutes on the clock.

A defensive reshuffle saw Ryan Elderton switch to centre-back where he excelled and Gavin Clark drop in at left-back.

With 10 men against 11 the game deteriorated which emphasised just how poor the visitors were and was a testament to the battling spirit of the Dolly Blues.

It was in the 85th minute that Radcliffe went ahead, the excellent Danny Shaw broke down the left and saw his shot well-saved by McDonald but the ball fell at the feet of substitute Odion Karbembo to score.

It seemed an age later when Swarbrick hit the equaliser, it was ten minutes. He gambled on the shoulder of the last defender, found himself free in the box and daringly took a chipped touch to beat his man again before finishing well into the bottom corner.

It was a heart-racing, terrific moment and it was celebrated thus with a team pile-on in the dugout.

An exceptional performance in terms of spirit and guts but one joint managers Neil Wainwright and Michael Stringfellow will hope their charges can avoid.

There has to be easier ways to gain points than that.

Lancaster City: McDonald 6, Hudson 7, Elderton 8, Gregson 8, Marshall 6, Clark 7, Swarbrick 7, Wilson 7, Green 7, Kilifin 7 (Naylor 48), McKenna 7 (Rothwell 79). Subs not used: Bradley, Winder, Wainwright

Radcliffe Borough: Coates, Connor, Shaw, Esdaille, Parker, Chalmers, Chadwick (Crooks 76), Jones M, Wharton, Jones G (Karbembo 65), Bembo-Leta (Carden 60).

Referee: Barry Cropp

Attendance: 144

Star man: Ryan Elderton - Kept his side in it marshalling the defence in the absence of his skipper

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