LANCASTER City let slip a one-goal lead as they were defeated 2-1 by Conference outfit Barrow on a wet Tuesday evening at Giant Axe.
The Dolly Blues deservedly led at half-time through a Jordan Connerton header but two sloppy goals in the second half meant it was two defeats in their last two pre-season friendlies for Mick Hoyle’s men.
However the City caretaker boss will take heart from a spirited City performance that showed real quality, in particular during the first half, against a side playing their football three leagues higher.
Barrow started slightly the better in an entertaining first half. Adam Boyd went close just three minutes in, but his shot went narrowly wide from the edge of the area.
Three minutes later and Lancaster had young keeper Stefan Holden to thank for keeping the scores level. The former Rhyl stopper made an excellent reaction save from Obi Anorou’s strike.
After City’s nightmare start against Kendal last Saturday, where they were 3-0 down after 20 minutes, this opening exchange would have again been a concern for Hoyle and Michael Stringfellow.
However after the early shaky moments the Dolly Blues quickly grew into the game and impressed.
On the quarter of an hour mark, Tom Kilifin hit a rasping drive from 25 yards which Barrow keeper Danny Hurst did well to tip over the bar. It was evident to see Kilifin was brimming with confidence following three goals in his last two pre-season outings.
Hoyle’s men went close just two minutes later when a sweetly struck free-kick from Ryan Elderton was tipped over the bar by Hurst.
Lancaster’s good football and sharp, attacking play was finally rewarded through Connerton after 23 minutes.
A viciously whipped cross from the impressive Rob Wilson was inch perfect for the striker to powerfully headed home from six yards out.
Lancaster grew in confidence after the goal and an Alex-Rae Harvey shot from the edge of the area which went just wide was all Barrow could muster before the break.
City should probably have doubled their lead before the whistle when Connerton’s follow-up shot was cleared off the line by a Barrow defender after Kilifin’s neat turn and shot was well saved by Hurst.
Unfortunately from Lancaster’s point of view, Barrow came out in the second half much livelier and their extra quality soon showed. The visitors began to dominate possession and found the equaliser just after the hour mark.
City failed to clear their lines on two occasions as the ball fell somewhat fortuitously to an unnamed trialist, who slotted it past sub goalkeeper Danny McDonald from 12 yards out.
It got worse for City ten minutes later as Barrow completed the turnaround thanks to a goal from another trialist, Joe Holt. The unnamed trialist who got Barrow’s first was put through by Rae-Harvey and he unselfishly passed it across goal to Holt who slotted it into the open net from six yards out.
Worryingly for the Dolly Blues skipper Neil Marshall appeared to injure his cheekbone in the build-up to the goal and was swiftly substituted for Zac Archer.
Lancaster tried their best to grab an equaliser but just the lacked quality to create a meaningful chance. Barrow rebuffed a number of City balls pumped into the box and held on for the victory.
Lancaster City: Holden (McDonald 54, 6) 7, Parkinson 6, G Clark 6, Elderton 7, Marshall (Winder 60, 6) 7, Wills 6, Z Clark (Archer 79, 6) 7, Wilson (Culshaw 69, 6) 8, Rothwell (McKenna 60, 6) 6, Kilifin (Buller 69, 5) 6, Connerton 7