Lancaster City 0 v 1 Whitby Town (The Pitching Northern Premier League)
Lancaster City yesterday returned to Northern Premier League action as they entertained North Yorkshire seaside club Whitby Town at the Giant Axe. This was the first competitive match of the season for the Dolly Blues, following five unbeaten matches in pre-season which included a 6-1 victory over Prestwich Heys in the Lancashire Challenge Cup Final.
There were a number of new faces on show for both teams, the visitors welcomed four new signings into the squad with Josh MacDonald and Priestley Griffiths making the starting eleven whilst Soni Fergus and Jake Hackett had to settle for a place on the bench. After losing goalkeeper Sam Ashton at the start of the week, Mark Fell went with new signing Matthew Alexander in goal, whilst Liam Brockbank made his league debut at left-back.
After a difficult sixteen month period due to the coronavirus worldwide pandemic, it was good to see supporters back at the Giant Axe for the first match of the season. However before kick-off thoughts turned to the supporters who had passed away during the last twelve months as both clubs paid tribute to those supporters with one minutes applause.
Whitby Town took the lead on five minutes, when Jacob Hazel was released down the left before cutting inside the area and pulling the ball back for Marcus Giles who got between Andrew Teague and Glenn Steel to side foot the ball passed Matthew Alexander into the bottom corner of the goal to make the score 0-1.
The visitors continued to put pressure on the Lancaster City defence as they mixed up their attacking options with some long balls over the top and some excellent runs through Josh MacDonald down the right wing. On eighteen minutes, Josh MacDonald beat full back Liam Brockbank before the ball was deflected for a corner, MacDonald took the corner which was headed just wide of Alexander’s far post by Dan Rowe.
Lancaster City were reduced to ten men on twenty-eight minutes, as Niall Cowperthwaite was shown a straight red card for a late two footed challenge on Priestley Griffiths in the middle of the park. Cowperthwaite, fell into the visitors trap after Griffiths and Ritson had spent five minutes targeting Cowperthwaite with some pushing and late challenges.
Just four minutes later, the games controversial moment came as Lewis Hawkins made a late challenge on Paul Dawson. However, referee Christopher Porter made the decision to produce only a yellow card for the incident whilst the Lancaster City players, management and supporters were looking for a red card.
Whitby Town then had two efforts in two minutes, the first effort fell to Lewis Hawkins on thirty-five minutes, but his long range effort was well saved by Matthew Alexandra in the Lancaster City goal. The second shot one minute later, was another long range effort from Priestley Griffiths, but despite worrying goalkeeper Alexander his effort went just over the Lancaster City crossbar.
Whitby Town nearly extended their lead on forty-five minutes, as Jacob Hazel fired the ball passed Matthew Alexander into the net only to see a belated offside flag raised by the lineman following an initial effort from Liam Cooke. After disallowing the goal the referee blow the whistle to bring an end to a very disappointing first-half for the home side, which left the half-time score 1-0 to the visitors Whitby Town.
Mark Fell will have been disappointed with his teams first-half performance after letting in an early goal in the half to a long ball over the top of the defence. Having made changes his team started to get a foot hold in the game only to see Cowperthwaite receive a straight red card, which then mean’t more changes for the home side. His half-time team talk had an impact as the second-half performance from his squad was much better.
Lancaster City made a change at half-time with Christian Sloane replacing Glenn Steel to improve the attacking options. Just four minutes later the changes looked to have worked following a great move which lead to a corner, from the resulting corner Andrew Teague went close with a header from the edge of the six yard box.
On fifty-three minutes, following a long ball out of the defence, Charlie Bishop managed to get in front of the Whitby Town centre-back and keeper at the edge of the visitors penalty area, before flicking the ball onto David Norris but his shot from range went just wide of the Whitby Town left-hand post and out for a goal kick.
Lancaster City then went close on the hour mark when a shot from substitute Thomas Kilifin was tipped around the post by Bland in the visitors goal. The resulting corner was floated to the back were the visiting goalkeeper managed to collect the ball at full stretch whilst being challenged by midfielder Paul Dawson.
As the home side increased the pressure on the visitors defence they were caught on the counter attack by Whitby Town on seventy-six minutes, as Jacob Hazel fires an effort towards goal that was palmed away by Matthew Alexander in the City goal.
Lancaster City had just one more chance to draw level three minutes into injury time at the end of the match, when Paul Dawson took a knee to the back as he challenged for a header at the edge of the area. Robert Wilson took the free-kick which was punched clear Shane Bland before the referee blow the full-time whistle with the score 0-1.
Speaking after the match Lancaster City manager Mark fell said, “Bitterly disappointed I felt we never really got going in the first-half even if you take the sending off out of it. We didn’t put much together and they were a threat with the two forwards. We switched off to the ball over the top which gave them an early lead, we tried to get things going again but once we had a man sent-off we had to change things again. We were much better in the second-half and had a few efforts, but we are lacking a number nine who can put the ball into the net and as manager I need to sort out before we visit Witton Albion in midweek.
Lancaster City – Alexandra, S.Bailey, Brockbank, Fensome, Teague, Steel, Dawson, Cowperthwaite, C.Bailey, Norris, Turner (Subs) Hudson, Sloan, Wills, Wilson, Kilifin
Whitby Town – Bland, Dyer, Sukar, Griffiths, Rowe, Ritson, MacDonald, Hawkins, Hazel, Giles, Cooke (Subs) Shepherd, Burn, Hackett, Fergus, Bullock
Goals – (Whitby Town) Giles (5)
Attendance – 323