Lancaster City set for big FA Trophy test against Stourbridge

Lancaster City manager Mark Fell. Picture: Tony NorthLancaster City manager Mark Fell. Picture: Tony North
Lancaster City manager Mark Fell. Picture: Tony North
Boss Mark Fell is expecting another feisty affair when his Lancaster City team host Stourbridge in a FA Trophy second qualifying round replay.

The two teams met a week last Tuesday, with the Dolly Blues battling back from 2-0 down to draw the tie thanks to goals from Rob Wilson and Jack Armer.

From the Southern League Premier Division Central, Stourbridge are currently in a midtable position.

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That contrasts significantly to City, who are riding high in second spot in the NPL Premier Division, just one point off leaders South Shields.

But Fell believes the tie is evenly poised against a team who have already shown excellent form in the cup this season.

They reached the FA Cup first round proper, drawing 2-2 at home with National League outfit Eastleigh before three second half goals in the replay saw them bow out of the competition on Tuesday.

“They got beaten in the FA Cup on Tuesday but they are a good side,” said Fell.

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“They have a lot of games in hand in their league so you can’t read too much into their league position.

“The first game was feisty and I expect this one to be the same.

“It will be interesting. Both sides will think they have a good chance of going through.

“It’s very evenly poised and could go either way. We will be trying our best to win and get through to the next round.”

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While his men will be going full tilt to progress to the third qualifying round, Fell admits he would probably prefer a league match this weekend.

The Dolly Blues are riding on the crest of a wave currently having won seven and drawn two of their previous nine matches in the league.

Their fine run continued last weekend when they ground out a 1-0 win away at Scarborough Athletic, Fell is keen that his men make the most of this purple spell with promotion very much the priority aim for the club.

There is no chance that City’s inactivity in the league will see them lose ground at the top as Shields are without a game this weekend although Basford United could go back above them on goal difference if they get the better of sixth-placed Radcliffe.

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“The Trophy game does gives us a bit of a respite from the league for the players,” he said.

“But I think with the form that we are in, I would rather be playing in the league.

“We want to try to rack-up as many points as we can.

“At the moment we are playing without the same pressure or expectation as teams like South Shields or Scarborough or those sort of clubs.

“That may change though if we get to March and we’re still we are still in the Trophy, the LFA Trophy and the League Cup.”

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City moved through to the second round of the League Cup on Tuesday when they got the better of NPL North West side Colne at Giant Axe.

Fell rung the changes handing minutes to a number of the club’s youngsters. They made the most of their opportunity and the manager has vowed to let them out once again for the next round.

Seventeen-year-old Josh Winder was handed a start and teenagers such as Taylor Fagan (16) and Max Smith (17) came off the bench.

“We ended up using a number of 16 and 17-year-olds,” Fell said.

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“It allowed us to make a lot changes and give some lads a rest, but also look to try and get a good result.

“Colne were pretty much at full strength and we really chuffed to get in the next round.”

Fell also handed a start to new signing former Notting Forest and Bradford forward Nialle Rodney.

On the injury front, Jason Walker is unavailable and Brad Carlsley is unlikely to be fit.