Lancaster City rediscovered some of their recent lost form at Giant Axe with a dominating display on Saturday against relegation-threatened Goole.
With a much-improved playing surface and some glorious early spring weather to boot, Phil Brown’s side registered more than 30 efforts at goal during the 90 minutes as they kept up their push for the Evo-Stik First Division North title.
A string of fine saves, goal-line clearances and the woodwork kept the scoreline to one when on another day City would have run out far more convincing winners.
Lancaster began the game on the front foot and dominated possession and territory from almost start to finish.
Ricky Mercer was the first to draw a fine save from Thomas Beaurepaire as his goal-bound header was tipped around the post with a diving save.
Set-pieces were where City threatened most, with a goalmouth scramble from the following corner being blocked on the line three times before being cleared to safety.
Jordan Connerton then saw what looked like a certain goal tipped over the bar as his close-range header couldn’t beat Beaurepaire in the pick of the rest of the first-half chances.
The second half was a repeat of the first, City lining up chances but not getting the better of a resolute Goole defence.
Ten minutes into the period Glenn Steel had the chance to open the scoring with a free header from Billy Akrigg’s corner, but with all the time to pick his spot his header was well wide of the far post.
Mercer was unlucky with a glancing header from Ryan Winder’s free-kick that was straight at the visiting stopper, before Connerton had another goal-bound effort headed off the line.
The breakthrough looked like only a matter of time and arrived just after the hour mark. Louis Mayers’ cross wasn’t caught by Beaurepaire and Winder reacted quickest to poke the ball home to get the match-winning goal.
Lancaster weren’t done creating chances as Steel and Jacob Gregory both flashed shots wide of the goal from good positions late in the game.
The best final chance fell to Josh Earl, the PNE youngster shining on his full debut.
After Tom Kilifin had picked out the winger unmarked on the penalty spot, Earl lifted the ball over the advancing ‘keeper but his effort crashed off the bar to deny the midfielder his first Lancaster goal.
Lancaster City: Hale 8, Hudson 7, Mercer 8, Steel 8 (Westwood 85), Sumner 7, Winder 8 (Gregory 75), Akrigg 7, Wills 7, Earl 8, Connerton 8, Mayers 7 (Kilifin 80)
Subs not used: G Clark, Z Clark
Star Man: Josh Earl. Strong full debut from the PNE prospect.
The Dolly Blues next head to Prescot Cables tonight, Tuesday, knowing victory will take them back to the top of the table with three games to play.