LANCASTER City’s top scorer Danny Hattersley fired the Dolly Blues past Woodley Sports on Saturday and kept them in the hunt for the play-offs.
The young striker from the Isle of Man took his season’s tally to 19 in all competitions with headers in either half in a close, tense affair at Giant Axe.
The three points were a welcome relief for the Dolly Blues – their first win since November 19 – and leaves them five points behind third placed Farsley with two games in hand.
Chances were at a premium and with City’s poor scoring record in the past six games – only four goals registered – they needed to put away what came to them.
Up stepped Mr Hattersley and, perhaps more importantly, some excellent service from first Ryan Elderton and then substitute Zach Clark.
His first came after Elderton linked up with Tom Wood deep on the left to draw a free-kick after Bradley Maylett clumsily fouled the full-back.
Elderton took the free-kick himself, angled it away from the near-post where it was met by Hattersley, rising well to beat his marker. Woodley did little to trouble Martin Fearon; he saw a free-kick from Adam Mather whip just wide of his left-hand post, before he was indebted to his captain and a Jack Dorney miss to spare his blushes.
Neil Marshall was excellent throughout, renewing his partnership with Jack Duggan, who returns to the Axe on loan from Fleetwood Town, and he had to be at his bravest to fly across the goal and head clear to deny John Marsden.
Then Fearon misjudged a long ball to Dorney, thinking it may go out, the talented striker nipped in, rounded Fearon before shooting into the side-netting.
The equaliser, seven minutes after the restart, was well earned by the visitors.
Winger Aaron Chalmers showed great pace to burst past Rob Henry into the box.
Well beaten, Henry lunged in with more than a hint of desperation and pulled him down for a stonewall penalty.
Up stepped striker Marsden to tuck away the penalty, sending Fearon the wrong way with a confident effort.
Off the bench sprang Clark just after the hour, City reverted to a 4-4-2 – they had been operating with Lee Dodgson spearheading the attack with Joe Bunney just behind him and Hattersley on the right – and the nippy winger made a difference with his ability to beat a man at pace.
The winner bore all the hallmarks of Hattersley’s opener but was late in arriving, both sides butting heads in a competitive 45 that had as few chances as the first.
It began at the back with the ball at the feet of the composed Duggan.
His use of the ball is often intelligent and useful and this time was no different, he picked out Clark on the right with space to turn and attack his wing.
He beat his full-back before crossing perfectly for another near post run from Hattersley and another well placed headed goal.
This was an important victory with important goals for the Dolly Blues. They have dominated games in the past few weeks without getting goals at important times, they did that on Saturday and a timely run of form and victories in the latter half of the season should be enough to earn a play-off place.
Lancaster City: Fearon 6, Henry 7, Elderton 7, Marshall 8, Duggan 8, Kenyon 7, Hattersley 7, Wills 6, Dodgson 6 (Swarbrick 82), Bunney 6 (Clark 61), Wood 6 (Meaney 78)
Woodley Sports: Johnson, Anane, Bennett (Stepien 60), Hunt, Lane, Rowney, Maylett, Mather (Parish 70), Marsden, Dorney, Chalmers (Spear 83)
Subs not used: Hare, Symons
Referee: David McNamara
Starman: Jack Duggan – A great returning performance, a composed and controlling defender