The penultimate pre-season match for Phil Brown’s side provided a stern and physical test for the Dolly Blues against recently promoted Atherton Colleries.
The North West Counties Premier Division champions were up for the game from the first whistle and pressed and harried the hosts relentlessly throughout the game in possibly City’s most realistic summer preparation yet.
Despite missing a few key players due to injury Lancaster did enough on the day to seal the win in a game that was high on energy, if at times lacking in end product.
The hosts also tested different formations and player positions in the game, which lacked the usual passing ebb-and-flow of earlier pre-season matches.
The two first-half goals scored by City had some lady luck about them, both having heavy deflections which played a part in carrying them into the net after good attacking pressure.
First, Ryan Winder’s shot hit a defender and fell kindly for Oliver Wood at the back post to pass into an empty net.
Later in the half Paul Dugdale was picked out in the left hand side of the box and his volley looped off the back of a visiting defender over a stranded Adam Reed into the net to bring the half-time score to 2-0.
Atherton started the second half strongly, looking a constant threat from set pieces, and halved the deficit in the opening minutes after the break.
A corner whipped in to the back post was headed home from point blank range by Mark Truffas.
The comeback was short lived however as more good fortune gifted Lancaster a third.
After beating his man down the right wing former Barrow man Andy Haworth cut inside and drove a low cross which defender Jamie Forbes could only turn into his own net on the slide.
The visitors weren’t done however and from another set piece they reduced the deficit to one again. This time a second ball from a corner fell kindly to Daniel Lafferty to sweep home and bring the score to 3-2.
The visitors’ pressing and high energy performance took its toll in the later stages as City ended the game the dominant force at Giant Axe.
Their extra fitness and pace provided them with a fourth to seal the game.
Louis Mayers spotted the run of Hannu Tam who left the defenders for dead before rounding the ‘keeper and hitting a sweetly struck shot into the roof of the net.
Brown’s side complete their pre-season programme with a trip to long-time First Division North rivals and reigning Evo-Stik League Cup holders Bamber Bridge on Saturday.