Lancaster City 1-0 Harrogate Railway Athletic

Lancaster City boss Phil Brown and his assistant Dave McCann.
Lancaster City boss Phil Brown and his assistant Dave McCann.
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Tom Kilifin’s goal was enough to see Lancaster City to a third straight Evo-Stik First Division North win at the expense of struggling Harrogate Railway Athletic.

The striker’s header settled a clash full of endeavour but lacking in quality at Giant Axe on Saturday after a host of City volunteers had put in a herculean effort to make sure the game went ahead.

Their efforts were rewarded with the latest win for Phil Brown’s side who continue their ascent up the table, rising to 10th.

It was a scrappy opening, in which the hosts lost Jacob Gregory to a hamstring injury, as both sides tried but failed to play football on a difficult pitch that had just about beaten the heavy rain.

The first opening fell to Rail number nine Stephen Bromley shortly after the quarter hour but after capitalising on a Ricky Mercer error he found fresh air rather than the ball when in on goal.

Bromley did then make contact with a header from a Dan Thirkell long throw midway through the half but could only find the side netting.

The Blues’ first effort in anger came just after the half hour with former Morecambe goalkeeper Tom Stewart just about hanging onto a well-struck Ryan Winder free-kick, the City midfielder having scored from a similar position against Brighouse seven days earlier.

Winder came close for a second time shortly after but could only slice horribly wide when in a good shooting position 15 yards out.

The Blues number seven made it a hat-trick of openings five minutes into the second half but again Stewart showed safe hands as he clung on to a low free-kick.

City were starting to control the play but chances were still hard to come by, Billy Akrigg’s low drive from 20 yards going wide on 56 minutes.

Winder, at the heart of every good move for the hosts, came the closest yet to breaking the deadlock on 63 minutes but found Stewart in fine form after cutting in from the right.

The hosts had their lead less than 60 seconds later however as Winder turned provider, his high, long free-kick being headed home by Kilifin.

The striker nearly had his second on 71 minutes but Stewart held onto his flicked header at the second attempt.

It was far from one-way traffic however with Mike Hale producing a fine reaction save to keep out Thirkell’s powerful header shortly after.

As fatigue kicked in on the heavy pitch the game began to open up late on, Akrigg shooting wide from the edge of the area when he should have tested Stewart.

But there were to be no further goals in a nervy climax as City’s steady progress under Brown continued.

Lancaster City: Hale, Davis, Mercer, Marshall (capt), Henry, Watson, Akrigg, Winder (Carlton 80), Gregory (Cummings 11), Carney, Kilifin. Subs not used: Rogerson, Clark, Shearwood.

Harrogate Railway Athletic: Stewart, Parkes (Pells 77), Hunter, Coates, Low, Thirkell (capt), Mason, Peers, Bromley (Day 60). Ovington, Sharrocks (Owen 68). Subs: Robinson, Goodwin.

Booked: Coates

Referee: Natalie Aspinall

Attendance: 267