DESPITE A LATE attacking flurry it was an early defensive howler that cost Lancaster City dearly on Saturday.
An unfortunate mix-up between young central defender Sam Wilson and ‘keeper Martin Fearon gifted Ben Wharton a goal on just four minutes to hand all three points to visitors Radcliffe Borough.
The build-up was neat as Dave Sherlock beat Rob Wilson with a swift drag back and sprayed the ball out to Ben Manning.
His cross could and should have been cleared by either of the City duo but instead Wharton stepped in to smash the ball home.
Just moments later and Radcliffe had their only other real chance of the game as Manning broke through on goal but Fearon atoned for his part in the error by pulling off a smart save to tip the ball over the bar.
The Dolly Blues were not at the races for large parts of the first half but had some half-chances to go in at the break level or indeed in front.
Billy McKenna hit a weak shot straight at ex-Manchester United stopper Nick Culkin in the Radcliffe net after he skipped away from a defender in the box.
Then Adam Farrell came agonisingly close to connecting with a decent cross from Mike Rushton only for Culkin to again nip in.
The visiting stopper was on inspired form throughout and his best intervention came just before the break when he dived bravely at the feet of Rushton after Max Rothwell had split the defence with a through ball.
The last fifteen minutes saw some gung-ho attacking from the Dolly Blues but the woodwork and Culkin kept them at bay.
Neil Marshall saw a header tipped over the bar from close range and Wilson a back-post headed effort parried away from the resultant corner.
A Rob Wilson cross was headed goal bound by substitute Danny Hattersley but again Culkin tipped it over the bar.
The chances kept on coming and the most dramatic by far fell to Farrell.
First he saw a volleyed brilliantly tipped onto the post by the heroic Culkin.
He then finally contrived to beat him with a tremendous, lashed strike from the edge of the box which struck the angle of the post and the bar.
It was a whole-hearted effort from City just seemingly one of those days where a goal would simply never come.
Lancaster City: Fearon 6, Henry 6, Kenyon 6, Wilson R 8, Marshall 6, Wilson S 6, Rushton 6 (Ward 75), Roberts 6 (Hattersley 57), Farrell 6, Rothwell 7 (Swarbrick 57), McKenna 7
Subs not used: Hall, Nightingale
Radcliffe Borough: Culkin, O’Brien (Chetcuti 45), Flowers, Sherlock, Connor, Forrest, Brown, Jones M, Wharton, Brooks, Manning (King 72)
Sub not used: Jones G
Referee: Gordon Johnson
Star man: Rob Wilson – used the ball well and was tenacious in the tackle