A LATE penalty denied a young Lancaster City side a point at second-placed Skelmersdale United on Tuesday night.
Dave Swarbrick’s 18th-minute volley had given the Dolly Blues the lead before Ryan Wade equalised for the home side early in the second half.
Wade was then tripped in the area with 11 minutes remaining, leaving Ryan Armstrong to coolly beat Martin Fearon from the spot and give the title-chasers all three points. After a fairly even opening, in which a superb last-ditch block from City defender Sam Wilson denied Wade, Swarbrick opened the scoring for the Dolly Blues, volleying home from 12 yards after a right-wing throw-in had been flicked on.
The home side came back at City, with Dolly Blues ’keeper Martin Fearon being kept busy for the rest of the half.
Fearon was on hand in the 37th minute to acrobatically tip a Dave Roberts header round the post before shortly afterwards saving a header from City full-back Rob Henry that looked destined to be an own goal.
City survived to half-time but the scores were level less than a minute into the second period.
A good passing move from Skelmersdale released Wade who made no mistake when one-on-one with Fearon.
City were rocking, as the home side hit the woodwork twice in the next five minutes.
First Armstrong hit a post with an 18-yard shot before Roberts, who had earlier been expertly denied by Fearon, hit a post with another header.
Despite the Skelmersdale chances, City were the better side for periods, led by the impressive Simon Wills, making his debut in the Dolly Blues’ midfield.
But Fearon was still the busier of the two goalkeepers and had to rely on Sam Nightingale clearing a Paul Woolcott shot off the line.
City put pressure on the home side and just as if it looked like the game would end in a draw Skelmersdale were awarded a penalty, after Wills was adjudged to have tripped Woolcott in the area. Armstrong gave Fearon no chance from the resulting spot kick.
The result leaves Skelmersdale just three points behind league leaders Chester with a game in hand, which just happens to be the return fixture at the Giant Axe on Tuesday.
Skelmersdale United: Brocklehurst, Strickland, Byrne, Burke (capt), Akrigg, Parle, Woolcott, Armstrong, Roberts, Wade, Field. Subs not used: Peet, Tuck, Rushton, Almond, Birchall
Lancaster City: Fearon, Henry (Rushton 56), Nightingale, Wilson, Marshall (capt), Kenyon (McKenna 56), Gregson, Wills, Johnson, Swarbrick, Hall (Gough 80). Subs not used: Stuteley, Rothwell
Referee: N S Davies