Northwich Victoria ended the Dolly Blues’ unbeaten league run with a narrow victory at Giant Axe in a game where Darren Peacock’s side will feel they should have come away with something to show for their efforts.
The hosts created the majority of chances during the game but a combination of great goalkeeping from Tim Deasey, defensive goal-line clearances and some wayward finishing kept City off the scoresheet.
Lancaster were the most threatening of the sides in the early stages with Tom Kilifin testing Deasey with a couple of tight angle shots that were well-saved by the visiting stopper.
The Blues were able to put together some neat passing moves and some great link up play saw Kilifin able to test Deasey again from close range, this time the striker was unfortunate to see his shot rebound off the ‘keeper’s face and out of play.
The Dollies came closest to scoring on the half hour mark.
Kilifin showed great determination to cut inside from the left flank and cross the ball to Ryan Winder. The midfielder had just two defenders on the line to beat but saw his effort from 12 yards cleared.
Lancaster then had a big appeal for a penalty turned down with furious appeals waved away after Kilifin went down under a challenge from Chris Smalley.
Minutes later Northwich were awarded a spot kick of their own when Mike Hale brought down the on-rushing Danny Meadowcroft with the City stopper somehow escaping what looked sure to be a straight red card.
Winger Godwin Abadaki elected to take the spot kick low to Hale’s right, but the City stopper got down well to push the ball away to safety.
After an action-packed first half that somehow remained scoreless, the second half was a scrappier and far more physical period.
Tempers were often frayed as refereeing decisions continued to frustrate both sides, which boiled over into multi-player scuffles at times.
It was the visitors who finally broke the deadlock against the run of the play with 20 minutes to go.
The hosts gave away possession on the half-way line and a quick long ball over the top of the City defence set Richard Bennett clean in on goal and the Northwich top scorer blasted a shot past Hale high into the roof of the net to score what proved to be the match-winning effort.
Sam Bailey came closest to grabbing an equaliser for the Dollies, flashing two efforts narrowly wide of the target late in the half, whilst Billy Akrigg sliced the final chance of the game wide in added time to bring the game to a close.