Lancaster City are just one win away from claiming the NPL First Division North title after the latest drama-filled day in the title race.
Phil Brown’s side bounced back in the best way possible from defeat to Droylsden on Saturday, beating local rivals Kendal Town at Giant Axe as Farsley lost 2-0 to play-off chasing Ossett Town.
It all means the Dolly Blues are a point clear at the top and know victory at Glossop North End on the final day this Saturday will see them promoted.
Jordan Connerton returned to a Dollies’ line-up which was still depleted due to injuries, but the striker’s hat-trick ensured a comfortable victory for Lancaster with a true champions-elect performance when they needed it most.
Mike Hale and City’s make-shift back-line kept Kendal at arm’s length for most of the match as another clean sheet was picked up by the side with the league’s best defensive record.
It took just five minutes for the Dollies to open the scoring.
Gavin Clark whipped in a teasing cross from the left flank that landed behind the Mintcakes’ backline, Connerton reacting quickest to meet the ball and volley into the back of the net at the near post.
Josh Earl then saw an effort from range acrobatically tipped around the post by Will Kitchen in the Kendal goal who also held Craig Carney’s shot from distance.
The hosts doubled their lead seven minutes into the second half.
After some great work from Carney on the right wing to beat the full back he picked out Tom Kilifin 12 yards from goal. The forward’s shot was saved but Connerton was on hand to tap home the rebound and increase the Dollies’ advantage.
With news filtering through of Ossett taking the lead, Connerton sealed his hat-trick.
Beating off his man to latch onto Billy Akrigg’s long ball over the top City’s top-scorer kept his cool to take his time and calmly strike past Kitchen for his and Lancaster’s third.
Clark had the best of the chances to add even more gloss to the scoreline, heading just wide on two occasions before having a third effort cleared off the line as City threatened from set pieces all afternoon.
The final whistle was met with huge if controlled celebrations with one big game still standing between the Dolly Blues and a title triumph.
Lancaster City: Hale 8, Gregory 8, Hudson 8, Westwood 8, Clark 8, Winder 7 (Shearwood 80), Carney 8, Akrigg 7, Earl 7, Kilifin 7 (Mayers 75), Connerton 9. Subs not used: Sumner, Raybould, Henry
Star Man: Jordan Connerton - Hat-trick hero.