A last-gasp wonder strike from Charlie Bailey snatched City a dramatic point against high-flying Workington in a Boxing Day clash at Giant Axe.
The Dolly Blues bounced back from a losing position twice with an earlier and equally impressive effort from Billy Akrigg drawing Phil Brown’s side level after a disappointing first half showing.
Lancaster barely conjured up a meaningful chance from open play in the opening period, whilst the Reds took the game to the hosts and were well on top in the first 45 minutes.
After testing Chris Cheetham with long range strikes early in the game City shot themselves in the foot by needlessly giving away a free kick on the edge of the box.
Conor Tinnian stepped up to curl a shot at goal that Cheetham could only palm to the feet of Phil McLuckie for a simple close range finish after just 13 minutes.
Even this early in the game the festive wet weather meant the pitch was heavy and, as always at this level of football in the winter months, not conducive to flowing attacking football. Both teams looked to play long and head tennis was a common sight, especially in the opening stages. With City down on striking options again it was a very lonely striking role for Steve Williams which was almost completely ineffectual against a well-marshalled Reds’ backline.
Ryan Winder had the best of Lancaster’s chances in the first half, forcing a good save with a well struck free kick whilst failing to get the better of stopper Aaron Taylor with two long range shots.
The second half, as is becoming a common theme in recent matches for the Dolly Blues, was a marked improvement with City seeing plenty of the ball and looking the more likely to find the net in the initial stages before the Reds came back into the game.
Cheetham produced a top-drawer triple save to deny three Workington forwards in the space of five seconds to keep Lancaster in the game.
Phil Brown’s side had to be patient going forward but the equaliser arrived in glorious style on 68 minutes.
A spell of pressure culminated in the ball being tee’d up for Akrigg on the edge of the box.
The midfielder took a touch to make space for a shot and curled an inch-perfect effort into the top right corner leaving Taylor rooted to the spot.
The celebrations lasted less than minute as Workington retook the lead almost immediately. Sam Joel carried the ball down the left flank on the counter attack and played in Tinnian who hit a cross/shot that curled past everyone into the right hand corner of the net.
Despite the set-back the Dolly Blues didn’t let their heads drop and almost equalised when Ricky Mercer found himself with the chance to head at goal from close range, but the effort was tame and straight at Taylor.
As time ticked on into added time it looked like the last chance had gone until the dramatic 93rd minute.
With City piling bodies forward the ball pinballed around the box and fell to Charlie Bailey on the edge of the box.
The midfielder, in a mirror to Akrigg’s effort, made space on his left foot to curl another inch-perfect strike into the top left corner to spark wild celebrations and cap off a hard-earned draw that will feel almost as satisfying as victory.