Lancaster City 1-0 Northwich Victoria

Glenn Steel heads a Ryan Elderton corner over the bar.
Glenn Steel heads a Ryan Elderton corner over the bar.

A terrific second-half goal finished by Mark Jackson proved the difference as the Dolly Blues battled to a hard-fought victory over Northwich Victoria.

Jackson was on hand in the six-yard box to tap home a Tom Kilifin cross as he provided a flash of mastery down the left to beat his man and deliver a perfect low cross.

The visitors made City work for their points, they were always going to provide the biggest threat from set-pieces with their size and strength and they should have made that count in the opening half hour.

It was the Dolly Blues who started the brighter and looked good in possession in the opening exchanges.

They persist with their slow and deliberate build up and while it plays them into trouble at times when it comes off they carve sides open at will.

Had they had more decisive movement and hold up play up top in the first half their defensive and midfield build up play may have had more success.

Watching from the sidelines was the returning Jordan Connerton - who is set to feature for the reserves on Thursday night before featuring against Farsley next Saturday - and he may solve that problem.

Rob Walker had City’s first good chance on goal as his low shot bounced dangerously in front of Tim Deasy in the Vic’s goal who saved well - from the resulting corner Glenn Steel powered a header over.

At the other end a series of corners had City in trouble but some poor finishing - Joe Garvin blazed over from ten yards - and some terrific ‘keeping from Mike Hale kept the visitors at bay.

His save low to his left to firmly palm a shot from Alex Taylor clear was first rate.

For the most part City could not break down a solid Vic’s back four, Kilfin got joy down the left but could not deliver a telling ball and Jackson had opportunities to shoot or create from the edge of the box but found his final touch just missing.

At the back Steel was immense, shackling the dangerous Taylor with apparent ease and winning countless headers.

He also shows great composure on the ball and helps drive City’s midfield forward, a deserved man of the match performance.

The deciding goal almost came too early for the Dolly Blues as it spurred the visitors forward and placed City on the back foot for large parts of the half.

It was delicious in its creation as a lovely shoulder check and turn from Kilifin planted Chris Smalley on his backside, he jinked again and drove into the box before providing a pin point cross for Jackson to finish.

That City then rode their luck and defended too deeply made for a hearts in the mouth ending but the visitors’ final third decision making was woeful and with Steel, Gavin Clark and Garry Hunter in such determined moods they kept their clean sheet in tact.

Hale again showed his excellence making a terrific save after Rob Henry gave the ball away on the edge of the box.

After a difficult first half credit must go to Jackson and his strike partner Simon Wearing who ran tirelessly to close down and harass defenders and midfielders as City sat back and welcomed wave after wave of attack.

The three points leaves the Dolly Blues fifth in the table a place behind Saturday’s opponents Farsley on goal difference and with a game in hand.

Lancaster City: Hale 7, Henry 7, Elderton 7, Steel 8, Clark 7, Hunter 7, Winder 6, Walker 7 (Wills 80), Wearing 6, Jackson 7 (Hudson 87), Kilifin 8 (Donnelly 75). Subs not used: Akrigg, Millar.

Northwich Victoria: Deasy, Smalley, Garvin, Henry, O’Neil, Wisdom, Summerskill, Boyle (Armstrong 45), Burnett, Taylor (Hibbert 45), Nangle (Rugg). Subs not used: Clarke, Thomas

Referee: Paul Hodkinson

Attendance: 187

Star man: Glenn Steel - A fantastic defensive display, a real rock