Lancaster City 1-1 Farsley Celtic: Former title rivals share spoils

Captain Ricky Mercer heads Lancaster City in front at Giant Axe on Saturday.  Picture: Tony North
Captain Ricky Mercer heads Lancaster City in front at Giant Axe on Saturday. Picture: Tony North

Last season’s championship contenders for the Evo-Stik First Division North crown met in a promising looking Premier Division rematch as Farsley Celtic visited Giant Axe on Saturday.

The match was a slow burner that livened up as the match progressed with Phil Brown’s side taking an early lead.

The visitors however finished the stronger and will feel unfortunate not have taken all three points.

The first half was low on chances for either side. Oliver Wood fired over from inside the box early on for City before veteran Paul Walker shot high and wide from close range for the Celts.

Despite the visitors shading the opening stages overall, it was the Dolly Blues who took the lead after 34 minutes.

In what was the first real attempt on target of the game for either side, Sam Bailey’s corner was met by the head of captain Ricky Mercer, rising highest to guide the ball into the right-hand corner of the net.

The opening goal finally sparked the game to life and the Celts nearly responded straight from the restart.

Farsley danger man James Walshaw was played in behind the Lancaster defence but his powerful shot struck the top of the bar.

The second half was a step up in action on the first and City keeper Josh Powell impressed with a string of super saves to keep Lancaster ahead in the opening stages.

Midfielder Ben Atkinson saw two efforts in succession tipped wide by Powell as the visitors pressed and eventually got their breakthrough from a resultant corner.

In what was almost a carbon copy of Lancaster’s opener, Luke Parkins’ corner was headed home by Adam Clayton from the same distance into the same corner of the goal to level the score with 20 minutes to play.

The game opened up in the closing stages with Farsley looking the more likely to snatch the winning goal. Walshaw was a constant threat for the Celts but couldn’t get the best of Powell.

His best chance came when sent through on goal by Ryan Watson with the striker electing an attempt to round the City stopper. However, Powell reacted superbly to dive at the feet of the Farsley danger-man and grab the ball to stop a certain goal.

Atkinson had the final chance to win the game for the visitors in the dying minutes but couldn’t keep his composure, scooping over a cross from 12 yards.

At the other end, Lancaster striker Wood thought he’d grabbed an unlikely winner after heading home Ryan Winder’s free-kick in added time.

After some initial scenes of celebration the goal was denied by the offside flag in a frantic finish as the points were ultimately shared between the sides.

Lancaster: Powell 9, Hudson 6, Williams 7, Mercer 7 Steel 6 (Winder 60), Dugdale 7, Bailey 8 (Tam 74), Carney 5, Hibbert 6, Harries 6 (Muelensteen 83), Wood 5. Subs not used: Akrigg, Mayers.

Star Man: Josh Powell - Fine saves ensured a point.

The Dolly Blues next travel to Kendal in the Evo-Stik League Cup tonight, Tuesday.