Lancaster still harbour play-off hopes as they prepare for final run-in

Boss Mark Fell believes his Lancaster City team have still got everything to play for despite two successive defeats hitting their play-off hopes.

By Craig Salmon
Thursday, 17th February 2022, 4:45 pm

The Dolly Blues were beaten by NPL Premier Division top-five hopefuls FC United of Manchester and Scarborough Athletic, which came on the back of a superb 1-0 win over league leaders Matlock Town last Saturday week.

This weekend, they face second-placed South Shields at Giant Axe although doubts remain whether the game will go ahead due to the weather expected in Lancashire on Saturday.

Fell has looked at these four games against the league’s promotion protagonists as a free hit for his side, especially as City’s run-in looks, on paper, to be favourable as they play many teams below them in the table.

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Dolly Blues defender Glenn Steel (photo: Tony North)

Fell said: “If we had have drawn away at Matlock and FC United, and then drawn at home to Scarborough, who are currently the best team in the league, then people would probably have looked at it and thought that’s not bad.

“As it is, we beat Matlock so we have the same number of points as if we would have drawn those three games.

“I think the only issue we have is the manner of the last two performances. That’s the negative.

“I am 95% certain we won’t play on Saturday which will then take us into a final run-in. I think we need 65 points to get in the play-offs – that will get you close.

“So we need another 23 points from our last 11 games. So we need around two points per game which is not inconceivable. We are capable of doing that and we know that eight out of the 11 games are against teams who are below us in the table and the teams who are above us, we play them at home.

“We have a decent run-in but we have got to go on a great run – there’s no doubt about that.”

City’s squad is stretched at the moment with captain Andy Teague still sidelined with a hamstring strain, while fellow defender Ben Anderson came off on Saturday and is a major doubt for the weekend. Charlie Bailey and Sam Bailey are nursing niggles as is veteran defender Glenn Steel and fellow centre-half Ben Hudson .

“We have got lots of walking wounded,” said Fell. “We did a clinic on Tuesday night for the injured players.

“If you’re talking about centre-halves, we have got Andy Teague and Ben Anderson who are both out injured. Then you have Glenn Steel and Ben Hudson, who are my only two centre-halves left and they are both carrying knocks at the moment.”