LANCASTER CITY nicked a dramatic three points on Saturday with an 87th minute header from Max Rothwell.
Only four players survived from Tuesday nights’ defeat to Curzon Ashton and a young Dolly Blues side, in an untried formation, inevitably struggled but showed admirable determination to grab the win.
The first half was predictably tough as their 4-3-1-2 formation was put to the test by an aggressive Laird outfit managed by former City favourite Tony Sullivan.
Making his full debut Alex Meaney sat in the hole behind the strike force of the returning Josh Kenworthy and Alex Johnson and had the best of the chances in a scrappy first-half.
First up he nicked the ball from Kenworthy as he turned and took a touch inside the box before blazing over the bar.
Then he narrowly hit another strike over the top after Rothwell had poached the ball from Lee Atherton on the touchline and pulled it back for Meaney to miss.
The highly-rated Meaney, an England U18 schools international, looked sharp throughout if a little wasteful in the first 45; it was his control and footwork that lifted him above the rest.
The visitors were wasteful with their early pressure and they came closest with a stretching volley from Danny Andrew that went harmlessly wide.
The Dolly Blues had a decent spell in the opening exchanges of the second half where they looked to have settled into their new formation and passed the ball around well.
It provided a couple of chances as Johnson rose well to meet a cross from Kenworthy which was well saved by Joshua Molloy in the Laird goal.
Then Meaney made himself a yard of space with a neat touch and shot straight at Molloy who gathered the ball up after a slight fumble.
Defensively City were fairly sound with Danny Gregson, another youngster making his full debut, looking particularly impressive against a tall Laird striker in Aaron Bowen, Sam Wilson was excellent throughout while in front of them Alex Kenyon is growing into a tough competitor who provided an aggressive edge coupled with top-notch distribution.
The winner came from an in-swinging Dave Swarbrick corner, Rothwell made a forceful near post run and made good contact with his head, it took a hefty deflection off the thigh of Nathan Coison before finding the back of the net.
In hindsight this game was the perfect chance to showcase the Dolly Blue’s young talent and try out a new system as Laird did not look
capable of taking advantage of City’s occasional sloppiness and the Dolly Blues will be delighted with their last gasp victory.
Lancaster City: Fearon 7, Henry 7, Nightingale 6, Gregson 8, Wilson S 8, Kenyon 8, Rothwell 7, Meaney 7, Johnson 6 (Hattersley 64), Kenworthy 6 (Swarbrick 64), Wynn 6 (Hall 64)
Subs not used: Duggan, Rushton
Cammell Laird: Molloy, Lipson, Riley, Clampitt, Coison, Atherton, Steward, Adamson, Bowen, Henders (Stephens 72), Andrews
Subs not used: Palethorpe, Evison, Wilson, Blaney
Referee: Antony Backhouse
STARMAN: Alex Kenyon - Tough in the tackle and smart in the pass