Lancaster City progressed to the quarter-finals of the Lancashire Trophy with an underwhelming victory at North West Counties outfit West Didsbury and Chorlton.
The hosts, playing in the Lancashire county competition despite their Manchester location, put up a stern fight against an often complacent looking Lancaster side who had Hannu Tam to thank for a later winner to avoid a penalty shoot-out lottery.
West were up for the game from the kick-off and fashioned a few opportunities in the opening stages.
Midfielder Joe Shaw wasted a great chance, heading wide from close range from Ben Steer’s long throw, before Tom Bailey had an effort ruled out by the offside flag.
It was, however, the Dolly Blues who made the breakthrough after a spell of pressure on 13 minutes.
Collecting a headed clearance just outside the penalty area Ryan Winder unleashed a strike that took a vital nick to add enough dip and take it neatly into the top left corner of the net.
Sam Hibbert, playing in a striker role due to the amount of absent strikers for Phil Brown’s side, had a number of chances to get the second.
After a good turn on the edge of the box the defender-turned-forward fired just wide of the post on the half hour mark.
Minutes later, Hibbert spurned a golden opportunity as he headed Winder’s cross just past the far post when unmarked eight yards from goal.
After the interval the heavy pitch, which appeared to have seen better days, took its toll on the match as the game turned scrappy with little flow or end product at either end.
Billy Akrigg and Winder both flashed shots wide whilst the Dollies’ defence held strong until a momentary lapse with an hour gone on the clock. Ben Steer found space to run down the left channel and fizzed a fierce cross towards the back post.
The ball appeared to hit Paul Dugdale and ricocheted into the roof of the net and just like that the scores were level.
Reserves top-scorer Elliot Pond made an appearance from the bench and almost made an immediate impact, the youngster’s well-struck effort just clearing the bar from inside the box.
With the quality of the match dipping to an all-time low, the tie looked certain to be heading to penalties until substitute Tam won the game with just over 10 minutes to go.
Steve Williams’ lobbed ball over the West backline was seized on by the pace of Tam who sprinted in on goal and coolly slotted the ball low past Aaron Ashley.
City held on in the dying minutes, despite a late onslaught by the hosts, to claim their quarter-final berth and took their first step on the road to another potential Macron Stadium appearance in this season’s final.
Lancaster City: Cheetham 6 (Powell 88), Fensome 7, Williams 8, Mercer 7, Dugdale 6, Winder 8, Wills 6, Akrigg 6, C Bailey 6, Harries 6 (Tam 71), Hibbert 6 (Pond 58). Subs not used: Hudson, Westwood
Man of the Match: Ryan Winder.