Lancaster City 2-1 Harrogate Railway Athletic

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After breaking their losing run with their victory at Goole, the Dolly Blues looked to build up a run of wins and ascend the table, this time against Harrogate Railway Athletic.

City ran out comfortable 4-0 winners the last time these two teams met earlier in the season.

This time around was equally comfortable, even if the scoreline didn’t show it.

Harrogate were the first to go close in the early stages of the first half when John Maloney’s shot from inside the box beat McDonald but Winters was on hand to clear the ball off the line via City’s own crossbar.

On the half hour mark Mike Stringfellow’s dipping volley from the edge of the box crashed off Railway stopper Sam Dobbs’ bar and was headed in on the rebound by Tom Kilifin.

The striker, however, was well offside and the flag went up to deny City’s top scorer.

On 38 minutes there was no denying the prolific forward.

Kilifin beat ‘keeper Dobbs to a loose ball in the box and, with his back to goal, turned and fired a fierce drive into the top left corner.

A commanding defensive performance from Danny Gregson and particularly Neil Marshall restricted the visitors to a solo half-chance from range.

John Maloney hit a speculative shot from distance just before half time that hit the top of the bar as City went into half time on top.

The second half display, anchored by the talismanic performance from skipper Neil Marshall, was controlled by the hosts without creating many clear cut chances. Harrogate stopper Sam Dobbs’ was quick off his line to deny chances for Darren Green and Dave Swarbrick on the break before City finally doubled their lead on the hour mark.

Rob Wilson collected the ball on the edge of the box from a corner and, with typically great footwork, rounded his man and produced a perfect cross for Rory Winters.

The defender’s headed effort was well saved by Dobbs but Danny Gregson was in the right place at the right time to head the rebound past the static defenders on the line for his second goal in as many games.

Now two goals to the good City looked in complete control but failed to turn their dominance into chances with Rob Wilson going closest with a swerving effort from range that went narrowly wide.

New signing Jake Simpson had a solid debut and produced some fantastic crosses from the right wing that were unlucky to not turn into real chances.

The visitors eventually got their consolation goal in the last minute of added time.

Railway winger Danny Hull whipped in a looping cross from the right flank that curled over McDonald and into the top corner to bring the final score to 2-1.

A great defensive performance from City showed that they have the ability to grind out results even when not at their best.

Their next stop at Prescot Cables gives them the opportunity to win three on the bounce for the first time this season and break into the top half of the table with City now just seven points off a playoff spot.

Lancaster City: McDonald 7, Winters 7, Gregson 8, Marshall 9, Elderton 7, Simpson 8 (Swarbrick), Wilson 7, Stringfellow 7, Wainwright 7(Rothwell), Green 7 (Bradley), Kilifin 8

Subs not used: Naylor, Fielding

Starman: Neil Marshall – a vintage defensive performance from City’s skipper.