Lancster City 1 1874 Northwich 0
I would not usually start with the match but I decided to get this one out of the way. The match was an FA Cup First Rouind qualifier between Lancaster City of the Northern Premier League, Premier Division and 1874 Northwich one level below playing in the Northern Premier league, Division One West. My expectation of a very competitive, pasionate game did not materialise and the noisy Northwhich travelling fans felt so too.
Some games just do not get going and there was little to enthuse as the two defences blunted any attacks. Lancaster slightly edged the first half with some wide play that gave them more option.
The day was warm, 18 degrees, with a light breeze that helped to move the cloud revealing some sunny patches. The pitch is pretty level and the grass very thick but yellowing where it has been cut in stripes.
Lancaster put on more pressure in the second half through three long throws into the penalty area and their pressure paid off after 20 minutes when Paul Dawson picked up the ball on the halfway line and ran straight through the middle of the Northwhich defence to shoot. The goalkeper could only parry the shot and it fell to Tom Kilifin to tap home.
Lancaster made a half time change bringing on Christian Sloane who tidied up midfield and made some good probing balls. I was also impressed by Liam Brockbank at left back who overlapped on numerous occaisions and seemed to be marauding all over the pitch at the end.
After the goal there seemed little interest and it was not necessary for Lancaster to take the ball into the corner flag area to waste time three times in the last ten minutes, I’m sure if they would have pressed harder they would have added to their one goal..
The real enjoyment
Lancaster is a great club if the volunteers are anything to go by. I arrived from Scotland on my way home with very little cash. This was a problem to the gateman but he sent me to the office for help. Unfortunately they coudn’t get through on their phones to take a payment. Why is it that you just can’t get mobile telephone service in so many places in the UK including major motorways, some levelling up here would be a help. However help was at hand and Jan said no problem if you come round to the bar they have access there. So Jan saved the day and then spent the whole of the first half walking round the ground selling raffle tickets and having banter with home and away fans. Every club has or needs a Jan.
1874 Northwhich have done amazingly well since their first game in July 2013 having been formed following the demise of Northwhich Victoria. Not being able to use the old name, which has also since been restarted, they chose to add the date of the formation of the original team to ‘Northwhich’. They have progressed from the North West Counties League despited the Covid disruptions in such a short time.
Lancaster City in contrast have been in existance since 1911 although there were teams in the city before that. THEY played their football in the Lancashire Combination for 60 years and were unsucessful in applying for Football League status. Lancaster City now joined the Northern Premier League but ten years later were relegated to the North West Counties League but bounced back in 1987 and rose to playing in the Conference North. A return to the Northern Premier mainly due to financial problems has seen them consolidate life at that level.
Their ground the Giant Axe is just behind the railway station and you can train spot comings and goings in the station. It is a large ground with good terraced covering behind both goals and a large seated stand down one side. There is an ample carpark just outside the ground.
Lancaster City and Jan deserve success for the future but an away draw in the next round at Morpeth Town will be a hard game to win. Although the crowd of 347 must not have thought the game was a cracker I’m sure like me they enjoyed themselves.
Jan explained to me that there were new caterers at the ground this year and when I asked for chips before the game I was disappointed to be told they had none. Meat pie, mushy peas and gravy had to sufice but at half time I noticed people with trays of chips. They had now managed to get some and were frying, so I had to try them and although they were hot, golden. a good quantity, they had little taste and a greasy after taste. I apologise to Dollys Diner for only being able to award 55 points. It also makes the diet harder having eaten the pie.