Lancaster City target progression in the FA Trophy after making national headlines

New manager of Lancaster City Mark Fell
New manager of Lancaster City Mark Fell

Lancaster City boss Mark Fell has urged his men to get back to business this weekend when they face Ossett United at Giant Axe in the FA Trophy.

The Dolly Blues – or more pointedly the team’s tremendous dressing-room cameraderie – has been in the national spotlight this week.

The story about their young star Tom Preston 
using a sirloin steak to alleviate the pain of a swollen ankle – pranked to do so by team-mate Rob Wilson – has made football fans up and down the country chuckle.

Fell admits the fun episode has given everybody connected with the club a lift this week, especially after Saturday’s frustrating 1-0 defeat at Witton Albion.

“It was good publicity for the club,” said Fell. “Any time you make national news, you want to try to harvest that in any way you can do.

“I think what it shows is that we have got a really good dressing and a good rapport with each other.

“Everybody gets on with each other, although to be fair it’s not unlike any other football dressing room.”

Fell branded his team’s performance on Saturday as the poorest since he arrived at the club and although the team improved after the break it was not enough to get a result.

“The first half performance is the worst we have given under my tenure at the club,” said Fell.

“We just did not start well enough and it took us over a hour to get going.

“We conceded in the first half, but it wasn’t until the last 25 minutes or so before we started to get a foothold in the game, which was a bit frustrating.

“We changed a few things at half-time and were better in the second half.

“But our performance made it too easy for Witton.

“They dropped in after 
going down to 10 men and said come and break us down.

“But we were not quick enough or dynamic enough. We did not show that belief or know-how to get something out of the game.

“We are good at hanging on to leads and digging in, but we are not great at chasing games when we are behind and that is something we need to work on.

“Witton were good opposition. With the games in hands they have got, they are probably in a false position.

“But I saw it as a good opportunity to get some points on the board.”

Fell admits his team are entering an important stage of the season.

Despite guiding the club off the bottom of the NPL Premier Division table, he is all too aware that City’s predicament remains precarious.

They are out of the relegation zone by just one point, while the two teams below them in the table – Marine and Workington – have three games in hand.

City now have four successive games at home – starting with Ossett this weekend and Fell has targeted a series of good performances and results to set his team up for the rest of the campaign.

“When we came to the club, we were rock bottom,” said Fell.

“We’ve made progress, there’s no doubt about that.

“But we have four home games coming up with Ossett in the Trophy and three home games in the league.

“After that we then play North Ferriby United, who are bottom, away.

“We are targeting these games to pick up as many points as we possibly can.

“It was a shame that we did not have a Tuesday game after the defeat to Witton.

“We need to start putting some points on the board.”

Fell believes Ossett, who are from the NPL East Division, will provide a stern test for his side this weekend, but is confident his men will have enough to win.

“They are an amalgamation of two teams – Town and Albion – so they will have some good players,” Fell said.

“They have not made the start that they would have wanted this season.

“I was expecting them to up near the top of the table rather than mid-table.

“We will have to put in a performance as they will be out to sting us.”

Meanwhile, Fell has signed young 20-year-old right full-back Cole 
Lonsdale on loan from FC United of Manchester.

Winger Paul Jarvis could come in contention for a place in the squad after recovering from a toe injury.