Lancaster City ended their season, and captain Neil Marshall’s Dolly Blues career, with a win against New Mills at Giant Axe on Saturday.
The Evo-Stik First Division North’s bottom side edged the first half but as the game wore on Lancaster’s quality shined through with second-half goals from Jacob Gregory and Ricky Mercer making sure of victory.
Gregory’s firm shot from 18 yards gave City the lead just after half-time and seven minutes later Mercer doubled their advantage and made sure of the three points after latching onto a Ryan Winder free-kick as the hosts confirmed their sixth-placed finish.
The early exchanges between the sides were scrappy with neither side getting the ball down and playing flowing football.
It was City who had the first real sight at goal as Craig Carney’s effort hit the crossbar from seven yards out.
The visitors, without a win all season and just three points to their name, then tried to get themselves into the game and forced Mike Hale into a double save as Jake Williams’ shot from distance was saved low down before Ashley Woodhead was denied from five yards on the rebound.
Towards the end of the first half, Lancaster attempted to put the league’s basement boys under a bit more pressure and shouts for a penalty were waived away by referee, David McNamara, as a scramble in the New Mills box led to a defender touching the ball with their arm.
A lack of cutting edge up front in the first half was made up for when, just three minutes after the restart, City had the ball in the net as Gregory’s shot from the edge of the box was perfectly placed and left Oliver Martin with no chance.
And the game was wrapped up shortly after as Mercer launched himself at Winder’s cross to push the ball into the net from close range.
As has been typical of Lancaster City under Phil Brown, they continued to push for more goals and almost had a memorable third when Tom Kilifin’s spectacular run ended with him taking on the ‘keeper but scuffing his shot wide.
There was still time for Marshall to nearly finish off his City career in style but the retiring skipper saw two chances come and go.
First the central defender failed to find his feet when the ball dropped to him six yards out the he could only pull a shot wide of the post.
It was all about the long-serving captain at the final whistle, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ ringing out around Giant Axe with all eyes now on Marshall’s testimonial against a Liverpool Legends XI on Tuesday night.
Lancaster City: Hale, Henry (Davis), Clark, Watson, Marshall (capt), Mercer, Gregory (Langford), Shearwood, Kilifin (Clark), Carney, Winder. Subs not used: Anderson, Cummings.
New Mills: Martin, Golden, Wilshaw, Jones, Pritchard (capt), Hopper, Hibbert, Coates (Rand), Williams, Ahmed (McLoughlin), Woodhead (Anane). Subs not used: Douglas-Pringle, Stanway.
Referee: David McNamara.