Lancaster City shift focus back to play-off push

Neil Marshall should return to the Lancaster City squad on Saturday. Picture: Tony North
Neil Marshall should return to the Lancaster City squad on Saturday. Picture: Tony North
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Lancaster City will shift their attention back to league action on Saturday with boss Phil Brown having his eyes firmly on the play-off spots.

The Dolly Blues won a dramatic Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy semi-final with Padiham on penalties on Tuesday night to set up a clash with Chorley at Bolton Wanderers’ Macron Stadium on March 14.

The final may only be a couple of weeks away but City have four league games to get stuck into first, starting with trips to strugglers Ossett Town, on Saturday, and New Mills, on Tuesday night.

Brown is looking for his side, ninth in the table, to get back to winning ways in the Evo-Stik First Division North after a disappointing 1-0 defeat at home to Trafford last Saturday.

The Blues boss said: “Mentally Saturday was a bit of a game too far.

“We’ve played 31 games now and it’s great playing games but our last six. seven, eight games have been in horrendous conditions and every time it’s been a real psychological battle.

“Saturday we maybe just didn’t have what it took to get ourselves up to the standards we’ve set.

“I think it’s lesson learned and we go to Ossett on Saturday on the front foot.

“It was disappointing to get beaten on Saturday but we’ve not ruled out making a late surge.

“We know though it’s going to be difficult but it’s not mathematically impossible and we’re focused on finishing in that top five.”

Captain Neil Marshall is expected to return to the side having agonisingly missed the semi-final due to work commitments.

Brown said: “His new job meant he had to go to Southend.

“He was down to go on Wednesday but the contract meant he had to go Tuesday morning.

“He did all he could to try and sort it out but he let me know on Monday it was nigh on impossible.

“He sent the lads a text in support and he’ll come back into contention on Saturday and hopefully from there on.”

Brown will hope Marshall can tighten up a defence that shipped three goals against Padiham.

All three in the 3-3 draw were fine strikes but the Blues boss believes his side could have done more to keep the back door shut.

Brown said: “I’m disappointed with their three goals.

“I know they were all good strikes but it’s the first phase that disappoints us.

“A simple move from a throw-in caught us out, the second one was a misplaced pass and the third two players in control of the ball get in each other’s way.

“They were all preventable but the finishing was very good.”