Harrogate Railway 0–4 Lancaster City

Rodrigo Branco was sent off for Lancaster City against Harrogate on Saturday.
Rodrigo Branco was sent off for Lancaster City against Harrogate on Saturday.
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Harrogate Railway, usually an unhappy hunting ground for the Dolly Blues, was a tough first calling point for new management duo Michael Stringfellow and Neil Wainwright on Saturday.

After a turbulent few months for the football club an improved performance was vital to signal Lancaster’s season was back on track.

Rob Wilson got the visitors off to a flying start after an even opening on 15 minutes.

Showing great composure the midfielder rounded keeper Lee Ashforth one-on-one and coolly slotted the ball into the net from a tight angle.

City nearly doubled their lead when Branco’s precise run and shot inside the box found the bottom corner but he was adjudged to be offside.

However, the lead was extended minutes later after a driven through ball from Dave Swarbrick found the feet of Tom Kilifin.

The former U18s top scorer showed a good turn of pace into the box before nestling the ball in the bottom-right corner.

Branco should have made it three on the half-hour mark when he sliced a bobbling ball over the bar with just the keeper to beat, but he made amends by setting up City’s third.

The Brazilian looped an inch-perfect cross to Billy McKenna who chested the ball down in the box and powered a volley into the back of the net and Lancaster went into half-time with a commanding 3-0 lead.

The restart brought more of the same relentless attacking from the Dolly Blues.

Kilifin, Branco and Swarbrick all narrowly missed the target before the Dolly Blues were reduced to ten men midway through the second half.

Branco, who had been harshly cautioned for dissent in the first half for kicking the ball back to the keeper, was given his marching orders on 65 minutes.

Chasing down a heavy touch by keeper Ashforth the forward collided with the Railway stopper and, despite it appearing a 50-50 challenge, the dismayed Brazilian was shown a second yellow card.

Despite the numerical disadvantage, Lancaster always looked the likelier of the teams to score.

Swarbrick came close to adding to the lead, smashing the bar in typical fashion with a 35-yard free-kick.

The fourth did arrive when Kilifin, City’s best performer of the day, was played in by McKenna with ten minutes remaining to seal the match with the goal of the day.

Just inside the box on the right-hand flank, the City striker looked short of options until unleashing a thunderous drive over Ashforth into the roof of the net for his second goal of the afternoon and seventh of the season.

Lancaster City: McDonald 7, Hudson 8, Gregson 7, Marshall 7, Elderton 7, McKenna 8 (Dodwell), G Clark 7 (Winder), Wilson 8 (Rothwell), Swarbrick 7, Branco 7, Kilifin 9. Subs not used: Wainwright, Bradley.

Star man: Tom Kilifin - Young hotshot’s has best performance in a Lancaster shirt.