Lancaster City 0-1 Curzon Ashton

Lancaster City managers Neil Wainwright (left) and Michael Stringfellow.
Lancaster City managers Neil Wainwright (left) and Michael Stringfellow.

Lancaster City completed a somewhat unwanted clean sweep on Tuesday night exiting their fourth cup competition of the season at the first hurdle at the hands of Curzon Ashton.

A solitary, scrappy, goal for the visitors on just five minutes was enough to decide this Doodson Sport Cup first round tie which should have yielded more excitement had both teams taken advantage of their chances.

The visitors had the larger share of the opportunities and debutant striker Saul Henderson was the main beneficiary and culprit wasting five decent chances inside the box.

This was a depleted Dolly Blue outfit as they were missing Rob Wilson, Rory Winters and Danny Gregson through injury and Gavin Clark was suspended.

The goal was disappointing. A high, straight ball into the box wasn’t claimed by Richard Whiteside in the City net or cleared by his defence and after a textbook goalmouth scramble Jonathan Hunt bundled it over the line.

It was exactly what City deserved from a nervy and wasteful opening spell, their inexperienced back four of Ryan Winder, James Fielding and Ben Hudson captained by Neil Marshall had a horrible time of it early doors but they were not helped by a midfield who could not keep the ball.

That being said the young trio all dusted themselves down and made a good fist of it, against a strong Curzon attack, featuring the league’s top scorer in Kristian Dennis.

For his part Marshall was perhaps City’s top performer - closely matched by Dave Swarbrick - the defender was strong throughout and tried to drag his team forward admirably.

Curzon’s Henderson had two golden first-half efforts as he headed wide unmarked at the back post and then half-volleyed an effort wide again in space.

The Dolly Blues had just the two chances inside the first 45 as first Swarbrick hit a low shot first time straight at Joshua Ollerenshaw before Andrew Naylor tamely shot wide after nifty work from Swarbrick in the Curzon box.

Lee Dodgson and Swarbrick provided City fans with a glimmer of hope with their ability to beat a man and create a chance out of nothing but they require more support from the midfield and more men in the box to be anything near efficient.

Ryan Elderton however, in a central midfield berth, forayed forward much better in the second half and had City’s best chances as he headed one wide from a brilliant Winder cross before hitting a pair of shots high and wide.

Henderson looked a frustrated as he hit similar efforts low and wide when again free in the box.

There was still time for both sides to miss again as substitutes Tony Evans and Neil Wainwright shot narrowly over; the City joint boss curling an effort onto the roof of the net from an angle.

The defeat leaves the Dolly Blues in an uncomfortable position heading into December, a run of league victories is vital to keep their season alive.

Lancaster City: Whiteside 6, Winder 6, Fielding 6, Hudson 6, Marshall 7, Simpson 5 (Wainwright 67), Naylor 5 (Green 72), Swarbrick 7, Bradley 5 (Kilifin 45), Dodgson 6. Subs not used: Stringfellow, McDonald

Curzon Ashton; Ollerenshaw, Bowyer, Hampson, Powell, Hunt, Cook, Hadfield, Walker, Henderson (Evans 75), Dennis (Blackshaw 67), Purcell. Subs not used: Watson, Brockley.

Attendance: 72

Referee: Gary Hilton

Star man: Neil Marshall - Solid throughout and assured in possession. One of his better performances this term.