LANCASTER CITY powered past Ossett Albion on Saturday but at a hefty price as highly-rated centre-back Jack Duggan picked up a season-ending injury.
The defender, on loan from Fleetwood Town, fractured his ankle in shepherding Ossett winger Kurtis Noble out of play in the opening quarter of an hour and early assessments put him out for 6 weeks.
He will certainly be a huge loss for the Dolly Blues who have looked shaky when forced into changes at the back through previous suspensions, the onus on Neil Marshall and Danny Gregson to hit form is crucial to their playoff hunt.
City set their stall out to attack on Saturday, fielding an exciting attacking five-some of Zac Clark, Tom Wood, Lee Dodgson, Dave Swarbrick and Alex Meaney.
The formation may have looked cumbersome at times and susceptible to counter but when attacking in tandem the rapid quintet looked dangerous yet lacking a deadly finish; with that this game would have been over early doors.
As it stood it took a bit of Clark luck to put City ahead just after the half-hour mark as he sliced a cross over Ossett ‘keeper Jody Barford and into his bottom right-corner.
The reaction of Swarbrick to the goal was a picture in itself, the goal-starved striker looked furious that the cross did not make it to him at the back-stick to score his first goal since November.
While able to find space and push forward on a few seldom occasions the visitor’s lacked a telling component to beat a solid City defensive line and were limited to a wild shot high and wide from Noble.
City, however, had their chances to stretch their lead; Dodgson had a goal disallowed for offside after latching on to a Meaney through ball before forcing Barford into a strong one-handed save from a similar position.
Alex Kenyon, who was terrific again in central-midfield, perhaps should have hit the target with a header from a corner.
That second goal eluded the Dolly Blues for all but two minutes of this dominant, if slightly nervy performance; perhaps the memory of Garforth’s late smash and grab the previous weekend was fresh in the mind.
While it was fortuitous in it’s creation after a Barford goal-kick slapped the backside of one of his defenders and fell at Danny Hattersley’s feet, the end result showed all of the returning striker’s quality.
He advanced on goal at pace, set himself well before stroking a side-footed effort past Barford to notch up his 17th league goal.
The victory sees City return to fifth-place and into the last remaining playoff spot, still in possession of two games in hand over the teams’ circling below it is in their own hands.
As ever the remaining ten fixtures of the season seem crucial for the Dolly Blues and with just three remaining home fixtures- one against high-flying rivals Witton Albion- and trips to playoff rivals Skelmersdale United and Curzon Ashton they have their work cut out for them if they are to achieve their early season promotion target.
Lancaster City: Fearon 6, Henry 7, Elderton 6, Duggan (Gregson 14 7) Marshall 7, Kenyon 8, Clark 7 (Rothwell 81), Dodgson 8, Swarbrick 7, Meaney 6 (Hattersley 70), Wood 6
Subs not used: Bunney, Egerton-Wilson
Ossett Albion: Barford, Holt, Guiry, Quinn, Gay, Fox, Lucas, Hayton, Thompson, Jordan (Tracey 72), Noble (Copping 72)
Subs not used: Patterson, Booker, Poole
Referee: Ian Hussin
Starman: Lee Dodgson – In a purple patch of form and looked comfortable in central midfield