THIS highly-anticipated and much-hyped encounter ended in a somewhat inevitable stalemate at Giant Axe on Monday as the Dolly Blues battled it out with fellow promotion hopefuls AFC Fylde.
The Coasters had won three and drawn one before this mouth-watering clash while the Dolly Blues had a 100 per cent record at stake from the opening four league matches.
Both sides will hope – and have stated that – they will be in and around the promotion places come the business end of the season and on this display separating them looks next to impossible.
After an edgy opening ten minutes the visitors grabbed the lead after the impressive Richie Allen latched onto a Joe Booth through ball and finished well into Fearon’s bottom right corner.
In horrible Bank Holiday weather both sides gifted their opponents possession and chances with some sloppy passing at the back and Fylde centre-back Glenn Steel gift-wrapped Alex Meaney City’s equaliser.
Allen had the beating of the usually dominant City centre-back pairing of Jack Duggan and Danny Gregson, the lesson handed out from the tricky striker was handled well by the young duo who improved as the game progressed.
Despite an early booking for body-checking former City man Dave Swarbrick, Simon Wills had an excellent game in front of his back four. Not only was he tough in the tackle but he used the ball simply and effectively
Zach Clark had a lively looking first 45 carving out one decent chance which he scuffed at the ‘keeper, it was his ability to carry the ball at pace that marked him out though.
Chance-wise the action was thin on the ground, Swarbrick tested Fearon with a swerving effort from range and Fylde’s Stopforth and Meaney both hit efforts high and wide.
City’s best chance of the half, just before they drew level, fell to Clark who hooked the ball just past the far post after the excellent Ryan Elderton had got round the back of the defence – not for the first time in the half – and crossed dangerously.
Both sides, nobly, tried to play the ball out from the back but it went badly wrong for the visitors just after the half hour mark when Steel inexplicably rolled the ball to Meaney who darted through a gap into the box and kept his composure under pressure to score.
City’s wing wizard Clark, evidently a somewhat marked man, succumbed to a heavy challenge from Matty Kay on the hour mark when he tried to break free on the counter. It was clumsy at best and if it weren’t for the joint attention of Ricky Mercer he would have walked as it was only that bruising pair stopping him haring through on goal.
We had to wait for the closing twenty minutes for the goal mouth action to really hot up and either side could have nicked it.
Paul Jarvis – uncomfortable on his return to Giant Axe at left-back – first whipped in a corner which Mercer headed over then played a beautiful cross from the left that Swarbrick probably should have converted.
For the Dolly Blues the most fluent attacking move of the match on 80 minutes should have been finished by substitute Lee Dodgson after he exchanged a flicked one-two with Danny Hattersley, broke into the box and pulled his shot wide.
A thoroughly enjoyable game of football where defensive errors played as big a part as attacking verve, both sides will look to sharpen up if their promotion hopes are to be achieved.
Lancaster City: Fearon 6, Henry 6, Duggan 6, Gregson 6, Elderton 8, Carney 6 (Dodgson 75), Wills 8, Clark 7 (McKenna 60), Hattersley 6, Meaney 7 (Kenyon 68), Rothwell 6
Subs not used: Johnson, Edgerton-Wilson
AFC Fylde: Unsworth, Heywood, Jarvis, Mercer, Steel, Stopforth (Kusaloka 79), Booth, Kay (Wilson 65), Allen, Swarbrick, Barnes (Waddington 82)
Subs not used: Penswick, Stringfellow
Star man: Simon Wills. Kept his opposite number quiet and passed the ball well.