Lancaster City boss calls for men to defend better after shipping five goals at Warrington

Lancaster City must defend better if they are to have any chance of forcing their way into the NPL Premier Division play-off picture.

By Craig Salmon
Thursday, 9th December 2021, 8:00 am
Updated Thursday, 9th December 2021, 8:34 am
Lancaster boss Mark Fell (photo:Tony North)
Lancaster boss Mark Fell (photo:Tony North)

That is the stark message from boss Mark Fell after he watched his men ship five goals in a disappointing defeat away to Warrington Town on Saturday.

The 5-1 defeat at the Cantilever Stadium snapped a three-match winning run for the Dolly Blues as they slipped to 14th in the table.

While the result – and scoreline – was unacceptable as far as Fell was concerned, he did take some positives from the way his side performed in an attacking sense.

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“We are going to get beaten by good team like Warrington Town if we defend like we defended on Saturday,” said Fell.

“I wasn’t pleased and I told the players that I wasn’t pleased.

“On the flip side, I went home thinking it was all doom and gloom but then I read some stuff on social media – even some of the stuff that Warrington fans were saying – and they were saying their team could have lost 5-1.

“The conditions did play a huge part. They were horrendous but Warrington managed them better than we did. In the first half, we went in 1-0 down but had 10 shots, five on target. They had two shots on target and scored one goal.

“We had 21 shots throughout the entire game, they had seven and we’ve lost 5-1. The data tells you a story.

“In fairness, they have a very good forward in Jordan Buckley who gave us the runaround but we made a couple of really critical mistakes for two of the goals.

“That’s the disappointing thing for me in that we were really naive in terms of some of our defensive play.

“I am not just talking about our defence – it’s from the front as well, our closing down, pressing the ball in midfield and winning first contacts.

“We didn’t do that well enough on Saturday.”

While his side’s defensive play is causing Fell a headache, the City boss is also concerned about his side’s finishing.

Arguably the difference between the two teams was Warrington had a player like Buckley and that is something Fell is keen to address as soon as possible, with Basford United due to visit Giant Axe in the league this weekend.

“That could be the story of our season,” said Fell. “When we reflect on the season, the fact that we have not had a No.9.

“I am trying to get one – it’s not that straightforward. We could go down the road of get-ting a young player and hope we hit the jackpot like we did with Sam Fishburn.

“History tells you that it doesn’t always work like that.

“With young players it can be hit and miss.

“Getting a proven striker in at this level is expensive and hard work.

“To give you an example of what we’re up against, Brad Carsley who used to play for us.

“He’s earning more money in the North West Counties with Charnock Richard than he did with us.”

Fell was forced into playing young 17-year-old goalkeeper Ryan Hogarth for his league debut against Warrington.

The teenager had been drafted in as an emergency for the FA Trophy win over Liversedge last week after an injury to usual No.1 Aidan Dowling.

The City boss was hopeful of bringing in a loan replacement to plug the gap, but ran out of time ahead of the trip to Warrington.

Blackburn Rovers ace Dowling is still unavailable for this weekend but the Ewood Park club are willing to loan another of their goalkeeepers, Felix Goddard, to bolster City’s squad.

“From a goalkeeping perspective there are always things you look at when you analyse every goal and whether the goalkeeper could have done better,” said Fell.

“Ryan was part of a defence which conceded five goals and a goalkeeper is the last line of defence, but there is no blame for Ryan regards the goals we conceded.

“We threw him in again because we had no choice.

“We have now got an agreement with Blackburn to use another of their keepers as Aidan is probably another week away from full fitness.

“We will have another young pro in goals this weekend but that’s just to take Ryan out of the firing line.

“He’s a young kid, we have given him that exposure and it will be great for him moving forward.”

Basford are another team who have a large budget to spend but they are only two points above City in the table.

“When we played them earlier in the season, it was another game which is the story of our season so far,” said Fell.

“We took them apart but could not score and they had one chance off a set-play which won them the game.

“We know enough about them to think that we have a good chance.

“We are looking forward to it. It’s the last home league game before Christmas and we are keen to get a good crowd watching and hopefully see us get the three points.”

City’s scheduled LFA Challenge Trophy quarter-final at AFC Darwen was postponed in midweek due to a waterlogged pitch. The match will now take place on Tuesday.