LANCASTER CITY were blown away in the Lancashire Trophy Quarter finals on Tuesday night as Wigan Robin Park clinically sent them out of the race to the Reebok stadium.
In gale force winds the visitors were sharper and better in front of goal than the Dolly Blues and stay in the hunt for a final spot at the home of Bolton Wanderers.
In a first half playing with the wind at their backs, Robin Park drilled the ball into City territory on every possible occasion, and kept it while it was up there, taking the lead inside five minutes.
Striker Philip Howard picked up the ball on about 25 yards, just left of centre, after City lost possession, took a touch and hammered a low shot towards Martin Fearon’s bottom left corner, it bounced awkwardly a yard or so in front of the City stopper but it had him well beaten flashing across his goal.
The 18th minute was the most bitter-sweet for City, Danny Hattersley hit back from ten yards after some good pressure from the Dolly Blues yet after winning the ball back from the Robin Park restart City again lost it in their own half and again the visitors were clinical enough to punish, this time from Ashley Rimmer.
At 2-1 down City upped the tempo and their game, they kept the ball better and registered two decent chances to equalise as Alex Meaney had a shot tipped wide before Dave Swarbrick, cutting in from the left, curled a brilliant shot from the edge of the box which just clipped the bar.
After ending the half in such Swarbrick-induced positivity City pulled level through their nippy striker two minutes after the break, the equaliser giving false-hope that they would kick on and beat their lower league rivals.
Hattersley, surely in the best form of his young career with more to come, held up the ball and swivelled past his marker to the line before crossing for Swarbrick to head home.
After such a lifting goal and playing with the wind at their backs the Dolly Blues needed have got more out of this tie. As it was the visitors proved adept at defending swirling long balls and were sharp on the counter to pull ahead and claim the victory.
It was from a corner – City’s set-piece defence has slipped up of late – that they first edged ahead.
A terrific save from Fearon had denied Rimmer from the edge of the box, the City stopper tipped a well struck shot over the bar and from the resulting corner Kay rose above his marker to head home.
City pressed and pressed with increasing and needed abandon as the half ebbed away from them. There were some grandstand diagonal balls aided by the wind that certainly looked nice but created little.
With all this forward thinking garnering little end result, City were inevitably left stretched at the back and the pace of the Robin Park attack was impressive, it was left to Howard to grab his second motoring free down the left to advance into the box and finish well to seal the tie, a deserved win for the visitors.
To trot out the old cliché, weather certainly levelled the playing field for the lower league opponents. But to finish with another old chestnut, City have to learn to master the elements and win ugly in these ties.
Lancaster City: Fearon 6, Henry 6 (Egerton-Wilson 45), Elderton 7, Gregson 6. Marshall 6, Wills 6, Swarbrick 6 (Bunney 74), Hattersley 7, Meaney 6 (Clark 74), Wood 6
Subs not used: Dodgson, McKenna
Wigan Robin Park: Foulds, Mawdsley, Howard, Wood, Pitts (Crompton 81), Kay, Callaway, Judge, Howard, Rimmer, Harrison (Sykes-Wright 62)
Subs not used: Foster, Faulkner
Referee: Peter Gooch