It’s safe to say the Dolly Blues’ FA Cup exploits are never short of goals or controversy, with Saturday’s trip to the North East to face Northern League side West Auckland no different.
With six goals, a penalty, a red card, and adverse weather conditions this was a game that had it all in the preliminary qualifying round of the prestigious competition.
City were ruthless and adapted to the tricky conditions, but a late red card to Mike Hale, ruling him out of the next round, left a sour taste in an otherwise comprehensive victory.
Lancaster City dominated the first half and in the third minute Billy Akrigg’s whipped in free-kick from the right flank was nodded home from close range by Jordan Connerton to open the scoring.
Adam Robinson, the Preston North End loanee making his first full debut, was impressive throughout and his driving and determined run won City their spot kick as he was tripped from behind on six minutes.
Connerton stepped up to confidently send Gareth Shaw the wrong way and net his second of the game.
Danny Shearwood had a great chance to get on the scoresheet after Connerton selflessly squared for the young Lancaster winger when in on goal but his shot was well saved and parried away to safety.
City continued to press and got their third on 36 minutes.
With the wind behind him, Louis Mayers opened his Lancaster account with a
powerfully hit free-kick that took a deflection off the wall as the wind carried it into the roof of the net.
After the interval West Auckland came at City in the opening stages and, with the wind now on their side, took the game to the Dolly Blues.
They scored an early goal after just seven minutes – following a defensive mix up on the right flank Adam Burnicle raced into the box and hit a low cross for Shaun Hudson to poke home from close range.
After a few handbags and some soaking up of pressure the Dolly Blues gradually grew back into the game and sealed the game with their fourth just after the hour mark.
On the counter attack Simon Wills found Robinson on the edge of the box who drove forward and hit an early shot across goal that found the net via the foot of the post.
It was then left for Connerton to seal his hat-trick, as he collected Akrigg’s cross on the penalty spot and showed great composure to delay his shot, pick his spot and guide the ball home.
The game may have been over as a contest but there was still one moment of drama and controversy with six minutes left to play.
A punted long-ball over the City defence caught a gust of wind as Mike Hale came out of his box to clear the ball, the ball glided over the stopper’s head.
Jumping back towards his box Hale opted to catch the ball with Auckland striker Hudson bearing down on him and the linesman’s flag was up immediately.
Referee Mark Gillespie opted to show a straight red, leaving the Lancaster players to argue that the ball was heading away from goal and there was no obvious goal-scoring opportunity.
With no substitutes left Gavin Clark donned the City gloves to play as stand-in keeper for the final five minutes but was left untested as the Dolly Blues saw out the 5-1 scoreline to progress to the first qualifying round where they will travel to face Brighouse Town.
Lancaster City: Hale, Hudson, Davis (Westwood 56), Mercer, Clark, Shearwood (Crolla 45), Akrigg, Wills, Robinson, Mayers (Waters 75), Connerton. Subs not used: Raybould, Russell, Gregory, Henry
Star man: Jordan Connerton.