Danny Carlton’s free-kick and Ryan Winder’s skilful effort saw Lancaster City beat Ashton Athletic and earn a place in the semi-finals of the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy in tough conditions on Tuesday night.
A tight first-half with very few chances left both sides frustrated and the blustery wind made it difficult for Lancaster to play the ball up to striker Carlton.
However, with the wind blowing in the opposite direction in the second half, the hosts found it much easier to play the game they wanted and within 10 minutes of the restart the Dolly Blues found themselves ahead in spectacular fashion courtesy of the former Morecambe man.
And with 10 minutes to go Winder doubled City’s lead to ensure a semi-final place.
In the first-half chances were few and far between with Winder’s shot-cum-cross and Carlton’s close-range header, both saved easily by Martin Pearson, the closest either side got to a goal.
Lancaster just about edged the contest in the opening 45 minutes but there was the feeling that they would live to regret not breaking the deadlock.
This feeling was soon put to bed as on 55 minutes Jacob Gregory went to ground 20 yards from goal after a cynical challenge from an Ashton defender and up stepped Carlton whose free-kick rifled into the top right-hand corner of the net leaving Pearson no chance.
City then sat back and invited Ashton to press them and attack much to the dismay of boss Phil Brown.
Ashton thought they had got themselves back on level terms as Mike Hale came out to punch a cross but missed, allowing for a free header which was cleared off the line by Rob Henry.
The visitors needed to capitalise on this huge lapse in concentration if they were hoping to win the game and they quickly made two substitutions.
But before these substitutions could bed in and get a foothold in the game, Winder had doubled Lancaster’s lead, much against the run of play.
Billy Akrigg played a superb ball through the Ashton defence to Winder who found himself one-on-one with the ‘keeper and smashed it home to make the score 2-0 and all but send Lancaster into the semi-finals.
Far from an Ashton comeback, Lancaster pushed for more goals. Pearson denied Carlton then substitute Zach Clark as the Dolly Blues moved within one game of a final at Bolton Wanderers’ Macron Stadium.
Lancaster City: Hale, Henry, Clark, Watson, Marshall, Mercer, Winder, Akrigg, Carlton (Cummings), Gregory (Clark), West (Davis). Subs not used: Freeland, Rogerson.
Ashton Athletic: Pearson, Cringle (Bailey), Howard, Holden, Rowland, Watson, Regan, Kay, Brownhill (Livingstone), Smith, Gilchrist (Adegbenro). Subs not used: Rutherford, Foulds.
Referee: Christopher Porter.