Lancaster City targeting a return to top of table
Lancaster City’s promotion strategy over the final few months of the season is to hit the front now – and let everyone else worry about them.
The Dolly Blues have already enjoyed a long stint as the leaders of the NPL Premier Division earlier in the season.
But they were overtaken before the turn of the new years as their rivals at the top, such as current leaders South Shields, Basford United and FC United of Manchester, began to catch up in terms of games played.
However, City have consolidated their position in the play-off positions and remain within striking distance of the top.
Their cause has been helped by a clutch of victories in recent weeks, while other teams have dropped points
Indeed a win this weekend over mid-table Mickleover Sports at Giants Axe could see City return to the summit – if other results go their way.
“Our strategy going forward would be to get out in front if we can, “ said boss Mark Fell. “I would expect South Shields to win at Grantham, but if they were to slip up, Basford – who are second – play Nantwich, who are fifth. That could be a draw.
“We are within two points of the top so we could go top this weekend.
“So that’s our plan, to hit the top if we can as quickly as possible and keep the momentum going.
“When you’re at the top, you’re not worrying about dropping out of the play-offs, you’re worrying about the title – it’s a good place to be.”
Fell believes his men have the best run-in out of the teams challenging at the top, plus City are the club with the least expectation on their shoulders.
“I think South Shields are feeling the pressure a little bit,” said Fell.
“It’s an interesting one. With their resources, they are expected to blow this league away.
“They have chucked a bit more money at it recently. They have brought in some of the top players at this level.
“They signed Darius Osei from Stalybridge Celtic – paid a fee for him. But football does not always work out like that in terms of team cohesiveness.
“But they have still got time for it all to come together. There are still 10 weeks of the season to go.
“What I will say is, on paper, we have got the best run-in out of the top six.
“I think we have only got Basford and Nantwich to play – both at home – the rest are all below the top six.”
City were comprehensive victors at the weekend when they defeated Radcliffe 3-0 at Stainton Park.
This weekend’s visit of Mickleover – who are managed by John McGrath – is one City would expect to win, but Fell’s men will not be complacent.
“They are a progressive club,” said Fell, who is hoping Charlie Bailey and Danny Pilkington will be available. “Like us last season, they were in a relegation fight but their manager has done a top job.
“They will still have hopes of getting in the play-offs so we will be looking to finish their season this weekend, but it won’t be straightforward.”
On Wednesday, City face Atherton Collieries in the semi-final of the LFA Challenge Trophy at the County Ground, in Leyland.