LANCASTER City progressed to the quarter-finals of the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy after producing an upset, beating Blue Square Premier outfit Southport on a cold November night at Giant Axe thanks to a Danny Hattersley brace.
A strong Southport starting line-up, with seven players who featured during their last match, looked a daunting task for the Dolly Blues but Hesketh’s men produced an inspired performance to progress to within two games of the Reebok final.
The game started in scrappy fashion, with both sides wasting possession and struggling to find a rhythm before City broke the deadlock on the 19-minute mark. Ryan Elderton played Alex Meaney through in the left side of the area and his low-driven cross across goal was met by star striker Danny Hattersley who powered past Matt Nemes in the Southport goal to give City the lead.
Southport’s best chance of the half came just before half time, when on-loan Blackburn Rovers striker Zac Aley’s driving run through the City defence was denied a goal by Fearon’s reaction save to maintain City’s lead going into half-time.
The second half started disastrously for the Dolly Blues. A mix-up between Marshall and Fearon left Port midfielder Jon Brown with a simple task of stroking the ball into an empty net.
The match took another scrappy turn after the Southport equaliser before exploding into life on the hour mark. Craig Carney’s inch perfect through ball from the half-way line sprung Hattersley clear of the defence but his one-on-one effort couldn’t beat Nemes who saved well down low to his left.
Sixty seconds later, Alex Meaney sprung Hattersley through in identical circumstances and this time Hattersley made no mistake as he rounded Nemes and slotted the ball into an empty net to restore the lead at 2-1.
The prolific striker has scored 14 goals in 22 appearances in all competitions this season.
Ten minutes later and Lancaster should have been out of sight. With the Southport defence pressing, Zach Clark broke the offside trap on three occasions with Meaney and Carney both impressing in the middle, but Clark was guilty of squandering all three chances.
His first chance was a one-on-one effort that went wide of the left post and his second and third efforts both needed a more accurate pass across goal to seal the game, but the chances went begging.
Brown rattled the bar from 25 yards in the visitors’ best chance during the closing stages, with City defending well from a late onslaught of corners in an entertaining and well-deserved victory.
The win caps off a fantastic run of form for the Dolly Blues, who have won seven and drawn one in their last eight games. City travel to Garforth Town on Saturday, looking to avenge their FA Trophy defeat earlier in the season.
Lancaster City: Fearon 6, Edgerton-Wilson 7 (Kenyon 81), Gregson 7, Marshall 6, Elderton 8, Clark 6, Wills 7, Carney 9, Dodgson 7, Meaney 7, Hattersley 8 (Rothwell 76). Subs not used: Hall, Henry, Wood.
Southport: Nemes, Lever, Akrigg (Grand 46), Davis, Owens, Carden, Moogan, Benjamin (Gray 76), Oridsh (Ledsham 60), Brown, Aley. Subs not used: McMillan, Whalley.
Star man: Craig Carney – Never looked out of place against such experienced opposition.