Lancaster City boss urges players to get balance between league and cup right

Lewis Fensome.

Picture: Tony North
Lewis Fensome. Picture: Tony North

Lancaster City boss Phil Brown has urged his side to get their priorities in order.

The Dolly Blues saw a run of four straight victories and their unbeaten record at Giant Axe this season come to an end as Matlock Town took all three points with a 2-1 win on Saturday.

City did bounce back by reaching the semi-finals of the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy with a last-gasp 3-2 win at AFC Darwen on Wednesday night.

But with a trip to Stafford Rangers next up in the NPL Premier Division on Saturday, Brown is keen his side remember what matters most. 
“If we had won on Saturday we would have gone seventh,” he said.

“We ended the day 13th but there’s not a massive difference.

“We’ve got games in hand because of the amount of cup games we’ve had and it can be difficult to build momentum in the league.

“The cup games can seem more important but the players need to maintain their focus and realise that the league is their bread and butter.

“We may be a Division One North side in terms of our budget but I believe with the players we’ve got we should be higher than we are.

“When you’ve got sporadic league games then you’ve got to make the most of them when they come around and we didn’t do that on Saturday.

“We need to cement our place in the league and that starts at Stafford on Saturday.”

After the trip to Stafford, there is the tantalising prospect of Brown’s former club Stockport County heading to Giant Axe in the first round of the FA Trophy on December 16.

The Blues boss though is keen that the players get themselves in the right frame of mind week in, week out.

“I’m not being dismissive of the cups,” he said.

“They are worth their weight in gold financially and in terms of the position we’re in, being in the first round proper.

“They can take over a bit though and we need to be careful.

“We’ve had the FA Cup, we’re in the Integro Cup, there’s the LFA Trophy, which is a brilliant competition as we saw when we got to the final at the Macron, and then there’s obviously the FA Trophy.

“We just need to get the balance right. We won four games on the spin and three were in the cup.

“Whatever is motivating the players in the cup games, we need the same if not more in the league.

“These cup games are not the be all and end all.”

Stafford, as Matlock did last Saturday, could leapfrog the Dollies in the table with a win on Saturday.

“They are a bit like us in that they are up and down,” said Brown.

“They’ve had some good wins and some difficult losses.

“They are experienced in this league but after 19 games my players should now be up to this level.”

Rob Henry remains the long-term injury absentee for Brown but the full back is closing in on a return from a shoulder problem.

Lewis Fensome will be rested ahead of his involvement in the FA Youth Cup for Preston North End next week, the Lilywhites facing Tottenham’s youngsters at Stevenage on Tuesday.