Lancaster City putting finishing touches to their preparations for the start of the new season

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Lancaster City have stepped up a level in pre-season as they gear up for the new NPL Premier Division campaign.

The Dolly Blues are three weeks away from the start of the new season – an opening day game against Whitby Town on Saturday, August 14, at Giant Axe.

However, their first taste of competitive action is less than two weeks off when they face Prestwich Heys in the final of the LFA Challenge Trophy.

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That takes place on Monday, August 2, at the County Ground, in Leyland – the match carried over from the Covid-19-affected 2019-20 season.

Lancaster City boss Mark Fell (photo:Tony North)Lancaster City boss Mark Fell (photo:Tony North)
Lancaster City boss Mark Fell (photo:Tony North)

After friendly fixtures against West Lancashire League and North West Counties opposition, City stepped up a level on Saturday when they travelled to Longridge Town of the NWCL

Premier Division – the game ending in a competitive 0-0 draw.

“We have started to ramp things up,” said Fell. “The game against Longridge was what we wanted it to be.

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“What the manager of Longridge Lee Ashcroft does there is make it so that they are great at keeping the ball.

“That’s what we wanted. We wanted a good workout.

“I suppose this is what makes me laugh about football – for all the possession Longridge had, they only had three or four shots on target.

“We had less of the ball but had 12,13 shots on goal.

“They were good efforts on goal, but I think we did look a little bit ring rusty around the penalty area.

“We did a little bit of work on that in training on Monday night and that is something which will come over time.

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“We can put finishing sessions on but ultimately, they need to be in those situations more often.

“Plus we were without a few centre-forwards – Rhys Turner played but there was no Matty Blinkhorn, Tom Kilifin or Rob Wilson.”

This week is the inaugural Lockstep Trophy which saw City beat Burnley Under-23s 2-1 last night with a finals day at Giant Axe to come at the weekend against Clitheroe on Saturday with the Clarets taking on Ashton Athletic in the third/fourth place play-offs.

"I thought we dominated the second half and scored two good goals from the chances that we created.

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“It was great to have the fans back on,” added Fell. “They’ve probably missed it as much as what we have.

“So we will play a game on Saturday and then we have got Carlisle on Wednesday night.

“That is the showpiece game for us in pre-season.

“Hopefully, there will be a number of Carlisle fans who will be getting the train down.

“I know it’s their second to last friendly so I know they will be pretty much at full strength.

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“Obviously there is the the little side story of Jack Armer coming back to the Giant Axe.

“He spent a period on loan with us and so I am hoping it’s going to be a really good occasion and a test for us as well.”

Fell revealed one of his biggest issues through pre-season has been the continued effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, with several of his players having to self-isolate.

“We have had five lads who have been told to isolate through track and trace,” said Fell.

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“We have had one players who has had Covid so it’s affected our preparations.

“It’s led me to consider whether we need a bigger squad because you could be hit by something like this the day before a game.”

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