LANCASTER CITY recorded their second straight away victory under their new management team with an excellent victory at Warrington on Tuesday night.
Branco nailed a brace of typically English tap-ins before his Samba skills led to him being clipped in the box and converting the resulting penalty to round off the win.
Despite going down to nine-men after the sending off of Luke Holden and the injury of Peter Dogan, The Wire had made the last twenty minutes tense stuff and it wasn’t until Branco’s last-ditch strike that City could breathe easily.
The first-half was played at break-neck speed and the home side, clearly a well-drilled outfit who like to build from the back, had the better of it.
Winger Holden was excellent down the left and created numerous chances before setting up Kevin Townson’s headed opener.
City were a tad over-exuberant in defence and dived in far too often presenting Holden et al with too much space too work, first he struck the post with a low shot drilled across the goal before blazing over from 18 yards.
For their part City were a little predictable going forward and a diligent Wire defence comfortably repelled their attacks, when they did spark something it was down to individual flashes of skill from an impressive front four of Dave Swarbrick and Billy McKenna down the wings and that man Branco partnered by Tom Kilifin up top.
Their best chance of the half came as Swarbrick struck a brilliant free-kick on 35 minutes that pinged off the stanchion and flew across goal for Branco to tap in but he was ruled offside.
With just five minutes left in the first half the home side deservedly nudged ahead after Holden slalomed down the left and crossed for Townson to glance a header off the post and in.
It was a blow for the Dolly Blues but their attitude and work-rate in a remarkable second 45 turnaround was commendable.
A blossoming central midfield partnership of Gavin Clark and Rob Wilson took the game by the scruff of the neck and the wide men worked tirelessly.
City drew level after Kilifin broke free down the left and lobbed a shot-cum-cross over the lost Wire ‘keeper Adam Judge, Branco following it in at the back post for a simple finish.
It was quick thinking and a pin-point pass from Wilson that created the second as he pinged a free-kick into the path of McKenna down the left who hit a first-time side-footed ball across the box for Branco to repeat his act.
Cue 20 minutes of adrenaline-fuelled madness as City valiantly battled to maintain their lead, it was far from pretty but the fight was impressive.
The sending off did little to quell the Warrington onslaught but it did put a serious black mark against the name of the brilliant Holden and a nasty cut in the left-ear of City striker Kilifin.
The former Kendal Town man bravely jumped in for a header while Holden looked set on kicking his head off with a studs-up challenge to the side of the head.
It was down to Branco to seal the victory, his mesmerising footwork proved too much for the home defence to handle and he was fouled numerous times before ‘keeper Judge was eventually penalised.
The young striker was clearly the only man to step up from 12 yards to seal his hat-trick and the win for the Dolly Blues.
The win is City’s fourth league victory out of nine and sees them move up to eighth place. Their FA trophy conquerors Wakefield are the visitors to Giant Axe on Saturday.
Lancaster City; McDonald 5, Hudson 6, Elderton 7, Gregson 8, Marshall 7, Wilson 7, Swarbrick 6, Clark 8, Branco 7, Kilifin 7 (Rothwell 73), McKenna 7. Subs not used: Hubbold. Dodwell, Wainwright, Wheeler
Star man: Gavin Clark - Has impressed this season, growing into his role and one hell of a battler