LANCASTER City put their on and off-the-field troubles behind them to reach the President’s Cup final with a 2-1 victory over table-topping Chester on Tuesday evening.
The visitors, eight points clear at the top of the Evo-Stik First Division North, were chasing a league and cup double but substitute Alex Johnson’s 106th minute strike gave the Dolly Blues a deserved win after extra time.
Dave Swarbrick had given City the lead from the penalty spot on 17 minuntes after Chester defender Michael Taylor had been sent off for a professional foul on the City striker.
Despite being the better team and playing against ten men City allowed the visitors back into the game and Steven Beck equalised in the 57th minute after Chris Simm’s shot had been blocked.
Assistant boss Phil Brown said he was proud his team had learned from their loss away at Bamber Bridge last Saturday, where, like on Tuesday evening, they went ahead but were pegged back.
Brown said: “It was a great effort and I’m immensely proud of the players. We put in a committed performance against the best team in the league.
“I know they went down to ten men early but I thought we were the best team by far.
“We ran out of steam on Saturday (in the defeat against Bamber Bridge) when we led in similar circumstances but we are quick learners.”
City started the brighter in front of a strong Chester travelling support and there was no argument about the penalty and red card decision that led to the opening goal.
Swarbrick was bundled over by Taylor 10 yards from goal and pciked himself up to hammer home an impressive penalty past Chester ‘keeper Adam Judge.
The introduction of Chester’s leading scorer Michael Wilde made a difference and Chester’s pressure told as Beck levelled proceedings pouncing on Simm’s blocked shot to fire home from close range.
Both sides went in search of a winner in normal time with Fleetwood loanee Liam Wynn coming closest for City five minutes from time, forcing a good save from Judge after a driving run from midfield.
The first period of extra time was tense, with neither goalkeeper being forced into a save. But in the first minute of the second period, City scored what turned out to be the winner when Alex Johnson reacted first after Swarbrick collided with Chester keeper Judge and the ball broke free, to turn the ball into the empty net.
Lancaster City: Fearon, Henry, Kenyon, Duggan, Marshall, Wynn, Hattersley (Johnson), Rothwell, Swarbrick, Hall (R Wilson), McKenna (Rushden). Subs not used: Nightingale, S Wilson
Chester: Judge: Taylor, Stones, Horan, Ruffer, Booth (Wilde), Barnes, A Williams, Simm, Beck, Wilson (S Jones) (C Williams). Subs not used: Field, St Juste.
Star man: Dave Swarbrick - A constant threat for the whole 120 minutes.